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Intragastric balloon therapy for weight loss

Robert B Lim, MD, FACS, COL, MC, USA
Section Editor
Daniel Jones, MD
Deputy Editor
Wenliang Chen, MD, PhD


More than 1.4 billion adults worldwide are overweight or obese. Obese individuals often develop health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. A modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent may be sufficient to delay or prevent the onset of diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses [1-3].

However, the availability of safe and effective weight loss therapies is limited. While bariatric surgery has proven efficacy in treating morbidly obese patients, it is not widely used in the class I obese population (body mass index [BMI] 30 to 34.9 kg/m2), due to its invasiveness, cost, and potentially lifelong side effects [4].

Intragastric balloon therapy is a minimally invasive, temporary method of inducing weight loss. It relies upon a soft, saline-filled balloon placed in the stomach to promote the feeling of satiety and restriction (figure 1). The weight loss mechanism of intragastric balloon therapy is restrictive. Any balloon with a volume of 400 mL or greater can induce satiety [5]. Another possible mechanism of action that may also contribute to weight loss is by delaying gastric emptying [6,7]. As with any bariatric procedure, the patient's compliance with lifestyle modifications is essential for achieving and sustaining weight loss during and after therapy.

The indications for intragastric balloon therapy, the choices of available balloons, potential adverse effects, and strategies of maintaining weight loss after balloon removal are discussed in this topic. Other methods of achieving weight loss are discussed separately. (See "Obesity in adults: Overview of management" and "Bariatric procedures for the management of severe obesity: Descriptions".)


The initial management of obesity is with lifestyle intervention. All patients who would benefit from weight loss should receive counseling on diet, exercise, and goals for weight loss. (See "Obesity in adults: Overview of management".)

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 07, 2017.
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