Elipse gastric balloon: What are the pros and cons?

Gastric balloons are an alternative for those who wish to lose weight but do not qualify for bariatric surgery. There are a few types of gastric balloons in the market, with the latest one being the Elipse gastric balloon, which we will be launching soon. I’ve written a comprehensive article on the Elipse gastric balloon in a previous post, you may check it out here

A few patients have reached out to me regarding the Elipse balloon, specifically its pros and cons. Let me address those queries in this post together with other information about the balloon that’s good to know. 

First, let’s quickly recap how gastric balloons work.

How do gastric balloons help in weight loss?

1. By taking up space in the stomach

The average stomach is about 1.5 litres in volume and a gastric balloon takes up close to half of that space. That leaves about 50-60% available room in the stomach for food. Physically, you won’t be able to eat as much as you did pre-gastric balloon. 

2. By restricting the free passage of food and water 

With the gastric balloon in place, the passage of food is substantially slowed down and restricted, helping you feel full quicker and for a longer period of time.

Am I a good candidate for the Elipse gastric balloon? 

The ideal candidate is someone over the age of 18 with a BMI greater than 27. Occasionally, I perform the gastric balloon procedure for brides-to-be about 6 months before their big day, but their candidacy depends on their overall health and how much weight they aim to lose. 

Pros of the Elipse balloon 

  • Unlike conventional gastric balloons, the Elipse balloon does not require surgery, an endoscopy or sedation during the placement procedure 
  • The Elipse balloon is passed out safely through stool and does not require any endoscopy to be removed
  • Residence time of the Elipse balloon is shorter (4 months) and results compare very favourably with other gastric balloons that require a longer residence time (6 months) and endoscopy 
  • There are many existing studies that prove the safety and efficacy of the Elipse balloon 
  • The balloon is easily swallowable as a capsule 
  • Its non-invasive nature means it can treat multiple categories of patients, including those who are morbidly obese with higher BMIs and those afraid of anaesthesia 
  • The Elipse program comes with a wireless, bluetooth-enabled body composition scale and smartphone application that enables weight loss tracking and communication between the patient and his/her care team. Interestingly, in previously reported data, patients who included the Elipse system in their weight loss journey sustained 72% of their weight loss 12 months after balloon excretion.

Cons of the Elipse balloon 

  • Some patients find the first week or two after implantation to be uncomfortable. Cramping, nausea, and vomiting are some of the symptoms experienced
  • Acid reflux is quite common, but anti-reflux medications will be prescribed 
  • The Elipse balloon is just a temporary solution. Once it is removed, it is up to the patient to maintain weight loss results  
  • In rare cases, the balloon may need to be removed through surgery or endoscopy or vomited up instead of passing through the digestive system

What can I expect after the Elipse balloon is implanted? 

Before the procedure, patients are advised not to drink anything for six hours and eat anything for 12 hours. It’s important to follow these guidelines as you may feel nauseous once the balloon is inflated. 

You can start having small sips of liquid six hours post-procedure and will have to be on a liquid diet for the first three days. Once you are given the green light to consume soft foods, make sure to slowly sip water after each meal to avoid getting food stuck to the device. You should be able to eat normally 10 days after the procedure. To ensure you get in sufficient vitamins and minerals even with a reduced appetite, do work closely with your doctor and nutritionist to guide you through nutritious meals and supplements. 

Is the procedure covered by insurance? 

Typically, health insurance does not cover intragastric balloon procedures because they’re considered cosmetic procedures and their weight loss results can be duplicated without a balloon. 

If you have any more questions regarding the Elipse gastric balloon, feel free to send them my way and I’ll be happy to answer them.

References

  1. Ienca, R., Al Jarallah, M., Caballero, A., Giardiello, C., Rosa, M., Kolmer, S., Sebbag, H., Hansoulle, J., Quartararo, G., Zouaghi, S., Juneja, G., Murcia, S., Turro, R., Pagan, A., Badiuddin, F., Dargent, J., Urbain, P., Paveliu, S., di Cola, R. S., Selvaggio, C., … Al Kuwari, M. (2020). The Procedureless Elipse Gastric Balloon Program: Multicenter Experience in 1770 Consecutive Patients. Obesity surgery, 30(9), 3354–3362. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11695-020-04539-8
  2. Raftopoulos, I., & Giannakou, A. (2017). The Elipse Balloon, a swallowable gastric balloon for weight loss not requiring sedation, anesthesia or endoscopy: a pilot study with 12-month outcomes. Surgery for obesity and related diseases : official journal of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, 13(7), 1174–1182. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soard.2017.02.016 

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