Bariatric Journal

Belly Balloon: (Previously Obalon) How it Works, Requirements, Cost

Obalon Balloon

Belly Balloon, previously called Obalon Gastric Balloon is a swallowable weight loss system or gastric balloon. Unlike most of the other obstetric balloon systems that are usually filled with saline, the Belly Balloon is inflated with gas.

This system is ideal for individual who are 22 years and older and with body mass index of between 30 to 40. The Obalon system, however, is not ideal for morbidly obese individuals. It does not reverse the effects of obesity related illnesses but instead aims to prevent them from starting.

How It Works

The procedure begins with the patient swallowing a capsule that is attached to a tube, in which the Obalon balloon is contained. Once the capsule reaches the stomach if releases the balloon and gas are administered through the tube and the balloon is inflated with gas. An X-ray is usually performed to ascertain that the capsule has been swallowed right and the balloon released. No anesthesia is needed for the procedure. Once the balloon is inflated to the appropriate size, the tube is removed from through the mouth.

Up to 3 Belly Balloon can be inserted within the first three months, and the entire treatment takes six months. The treatment is carried out together with a diet and behavior adjustment program.

What Makes The System Stand Out?

The Belly Balloon, unlike other systems, is a one of a kind technology with four unique features.

  1. Balloon film: The film used in the balloon is novel, reliable, multi-layers, durable and smooth. It makes it possible for the balloon to withstand enzymes, acids, and other motility forces that could be found in the stomach including bacteria.
  2. Valve: It is designed to be compatible with gas. It is reliable, radiopaque and leaks free. This helps it in maintaining the state of inflation throughout the entire period of the six-month treatment. The balloons can also be monitored using digital imaging.
  3. The catheter and capsule: This feature makes the Obalon system the only swallowable weight loss system that has been approved by the FDA. The catheter is designed to be ejected but not with so much force that it causes damage.
  4. The gas. Obalon balloon system is the only weight loss balloon system that uses gas for inflation. This means it’s buoyant and lightweight. A mixture of Nitrogen gas is what is used to maintain the balloon’s inflation state for the entire six month period.

Your Required Commitment

While the Obalon Balloon plays a key role in helping you lose weight, the success of your weight loss journey is mainly dependent on you. Your willingness to follow the program to the later and make lasting changes to your lifestyle is essential. How effectively you manage to keep off the weight long after the balloon has been removed is entirely up to you. Before getting the Obalon balloon system procedure, talk with your doctor about your short term and long term goals for weight management.

Cost of Obalon Balloon System

In the USA, it averages $4,000. You might find the procedure cheaper in other countries but remember, your safety is more important than saving a couple of bucks.


Below are some contraindications associated with the Obalon Balloon system.

  • Although rare, it can cause anatomical abnormalities that make it hard for one to swallow through some portions of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Prior surgeries may also inhibit passage of the capsule in some parts of the GI tract.
  • Individual who have had bariatric surgery before might get complications following the Obalon Balloon system procedure.
  • It could lead to inflammation or other pathophysiological maladies in the GI tract.
  • If you have been taking aspirin, NSAIDs or other medications that are likely to irritate the GI tract, this might affect the ability for a doctor to administer the Obalon Balloon safely.
  • People who have had Helicobacter pylori infection that went untreated are also at risk of getting complications from the procedure.
  • In patients who have blood clotting problems and rely on antiplatelet drugs, the procedure could cause excess bleeding if the GI tract is irritated.
  • Patients with a history of irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, or radiation enteritis are also likely to get complications following the procedure.
  • Drug addicts and alcoholics are also likely to develop complications and are therefore not suitable candidates for the procedure.

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