According to the International Diabetes Association (IDA), bariatric surgery like the gastric balloon should be offered to patients who are obese as early as possible. They see the procedure as a cost-effective option that will help to avoid type 2 diabetes complications in the long run. This has been a very interesting position and one that has changed the field of health care.
The IDA 2011 Position
The IDA released a statement in 2011 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) changed their rules on the lap band system, expanding how and when it could be offered. Since then, more patients are able to access this type of surgery, including people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. The FDA initially approved the lap band in particular for patients with a BMI of 40 or above in 2001. They also approved it for people with a BMI of over 35, if they had at least one comorbid disorder, such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. Now, it is approved for people with a BMI of between 30 and 35.
However, what the IDA aims to do is force the FDA into approving a wider range of surgical weight loss tools as well, above and beyond the lap band. At the same time, they recognize that patients have a role to play in this. They must commit to making permanent lifestyle changes.
The gastric balloon is a minimally invasive procedure, even less so than the sleeve gastrectomy and the gastric band, which are performed laparoscopically. Both options work in similar ways and are designed to be in place permanently. The gastric balloon, by contrast, is a temporary solution.
A gastric balloon is inserted into a patient’s stomach through an endoscopic procedure, after which the balloon is filled with a saline solution. This takes up space in the stomach (usually about 80%), which means patients cannot eat as much. The inevitable result is weight loss. The balloon remains in place for no longer than six months, after which it is removed through an endoscopy as well. Six months may not seem like a long period of time (results of weight loss surgeries are usually described in two to five year periods), but it is long enough to help people lose enough weight to become healthier and, more importantly, to help them change their habits and start to focus on a healthy diet and lifestyle.
It is widely agreed that the less invasive a procedure is, the lower the chances of complications are as well. The gastric balloon is the least invasive of all procedures out there right now. It is so effective that it is now offered to two types of patients:
- Those who are somewhat overweight and need to be encouraged to change their lifestyle to avoid obesity and its complications.
- Those who are so obese that they have to lose weight before they can have any other type of weight loss surgery.