How Much Does A Gastric Balloon Cost?
Gastric balloon surgery in the UK can cost anywhere from just £3,950 up to £6,000.
Many private clinics now offer finance packages to help you spread the cost of your gastric balloon surgery.
Gastric balloon surgery is available for free on the NHS, however the strict eligibility criteria for the procedure means it is not available to everyone.
How Much Is Gastric Balloon Surgery?
You should expect to pay between £3,950 and £6,000 for gastric balloon surgery. The average price for the surgery in the UK is around £4,500. These figures are only meant as a guide however, as each case will be treated individually by the clinic, hospital or private practice administering the procedure.
The cost of gastric balloon surgery is typically lower than other types of weight loss procedure, as it does not involve invasive surgery. The table below compares the cost of gastric balloon surgery against other types of gastric surgery:
|Gastric Balloon||A soft silicone balloon which is surgically inserted into the stomach||£3,950-£6,000|
|Gastric Band||A band that divides the stomach and creates a smaller section||£4,995-£9,000|
|Gastric Bypass||A part of the stomach is sectioned and connected to the small intestine||£7,995-£15,000|
|Gastric Sleeve||A portion of the stomach is removed, restricting the amount of food that can be eaten||£8,000-£15,000|
It is vital that you choose a quality private practice, as the promise of cheap gastric balloon procedures can often lead to medical mistakes or unnecessary complications. Clinic Compare has researched the price of gastric balloon surgery at some of the UK’s leading weight loss clinics, which can be seen in the table below:
|The Hospital Group||£3,950|
|Spire St Anthony’s Hospital||£4,500|
|Ramsay Health Care UK||£3,995|
|The London Clinic||Not Offered|
Financing Gastric Balloon Surgery
Many private clinics will now offer patients who are considering undergoing gastric balloon surgery the option of taking out a 0% interest loan to help fund the procedure. Typically this will enable the patient to pay for the surgery over a pre-agreed term (usually around 10-12 months) without incurring interest on their loan. The table below shows the finance deals offered by some of the top weight loss clinics in the UK:
|The Hospital Group||
|Spire St Anthony’s Hospital||
|Ramsay Health Care UK||
|The London Clinic||
It's worth doing your research beforehand and making sure that you're comfortable with the surgeon performing the operation, the aftercare package provided as well as the overall price you're paying for the treatment. It's worth understanding that in most cases, you 'get what you pay for' so what seems to be the cheapest treatment at first glance might not always provide you with the best deal over the course of your treatment.
Can I Get A Gastric Balloon On The NHS?
In some cases the NHS will fit a gastric balloon, although the criteria is quite specific. If you fall into one of the two following categories, you may be considered:
- If you are clinically obese, with a BMI of 40 or over.
- If you have a BMI of at least 35 and suffer from a health condition that could be improved through weight loss such as type 2 diabetes.
You must also have tried to lose weight via conventional methods such as dieting and exercise, and been unsuccessful.
A gastric balloon is ideal for individuals looking to attain long-term weight loss, and can prove to be especially beneficial for patients who may be too overweight or unhealthy to undergo other forms of weight loss surgery. Some surgeons may also use the balloon to reduce weight prior to such a surgery, so as to reduce the risks of complication.
Why not check your BMI here and find out whether you are eligible for gastric balloon surgery under the NHS. If you think you may be a suitable candidate for a gastric balloon, make an appointment with your GP to be referred to a consultant. They will undertake a detailed medical assessment to determine if you are eligible for the procedure.
Getting Surgery Abroad
It is common for people to consider have a gastric balloon fitted abroad, as surgery conducted overseas can cost anywhere between 30-80% less than that carried out in the UK. It is just as important to do your due diligence when looking at clinics overseas and to factor in costs beyond the surgery itself. For example, as the gastric balloon will have to be removed, there will be more than one trip involved and so airfare and accommodation should be taken into consideration on top of medical fees.
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What Kind Of Results Can I Expect?
With the promise of losing up to five stone in as little as six months, it isn't any wonder why many are prepared to pay thousands of pounds for a gastric balloon.
Some argue that there is a possibility that you will regain the weight as soon as the balloon is removed and you return to your old diet and lifestyle. However, having a balloon fitted for six months should encourage you to break a lot of bad habits that contributed to your weight gain in the first place. A gastric balloon is only ever as effective as your determination to lose weight and the support your clinic provides.
How Is Gastric Balloon Surgery Performed?
A gastric balloon insertion can be carried out as an outpatient procedure, and normally takes between 20-30 minutes to complete. The gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach through the patient’s mouth and oesophagus, so there is no need for any incisions or invasive surgery. You will be provided with a throat spray to make it easier to swallow the balloon, which will be compact and deflated. Once inserted, the surgeon will insert an endoscopic camera to examine the stomach, and proceed with the correct placement of the balloon. As the balloon is made from a flexible soft silicone material, it is easy to position and inflate.
Once in the correct position, the balloon will be expanded by being filled with a saline (sterile salt water) solution. Your surgeon will insert a small catheter and attach it to the balloon in order to insert the saline. Once the balloon is in place and fully inflated, it has a self-sealing valve to close, and so your surgeon will simply remove the catheter to complete the procedure.
In the time leading up to your gastric balloon procedure, your doctor will recommend a healthy eating and exercise plan, in order to ensure you are in the best health possible. You will also be advised on fasting before the actual procedure.
You should ensure that your surgeon has explained the full procedure to you prior to your operation. The General Medical Council (GMC) have provided a list of factors you should consider before undergoing weight loss surgery.
Recovery From Gastric Balloon Surgery
After the gastric balloon procedure, you will need to meet with your dietitian who will provide a comprehensive health regime to follow. This will allow the patient to make a speedy recovery, gain the most from their surgery and sustain weight loss.
Initially, you will be given small sips of water to drink, gradually increasing until you are ready to go home. For the first few days, a liquid diet will be in place. This includes milk, fruit juices and thin soups and should not exceed 1000 calories. No solid food should be taken within this time and fizzy drinks, ice-cream, chocolate, and coffee should be avoided.
Around four days after the balloon has been inserted, you can gradually add semi-solid foods into your diet. These can take the form of porridge, fruit purees, and thicker soups. Nothing should be eaten after 6pm. Gentle activity should also be undertaken, such as stretching and walking.
After a week, you will once again meet with your dietitian to discuss any concerns you may have and to assess your diet. Following this appointment, you can start to ingest a solid diet. This should consist of a 1000-1200kcal intake per day, whilst always consider a low-fat option. Food should be eaten before a sip of drink and this diet should be strictly followed for 6 months before the gastric balloon is removed.
Weight loss can take time so you should set yourself realistic goals – nothing is going to happen overnight.
What Are The Risks?
Although having a gastric balloon fitted is a minimally invasive procedure, it does still carry with it some risks. Some patients report a feeling similar to seasickness, in that they experience nausea and imbalance after the procedure. Gastro–oesophageal reflux (indigestion) can also occur as the stomach adapts to the presence of the balloon.
It is not uncommon for patients to report general discomfort in the days immediately following the procedure, and others experience a feeling of “heaviness” in the stomach area, along with abdominal pain. Although it is not common, there is a risk that the balloon could rupture once inside. As the solution is saline, this poses no risk to the patient, and would simply pass through the bowl naturally in time.
In addition to the complications that are specifically associated with having a gastric balloon placement, you should be mindful of other general risks that accompany any surgical procedure. These include pain and tenderness, infection, and bleeding.
Watch Mr Chris Sutton, Consultant Specialist Bariatric Surgeon at Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd, outline the potential side effects of gastric balloon surgery:
"In terms of are there any side effects to weight loss surgery, other than losing weight, it depends on the operation that’s being performed. The side effects of a balloon in the short term is that people will feel nauseous. Other than that there are very little side effects to having the procedure, unless the balloon deflated in which case it could block the intestine. This is extremely rare, and that’s why the fluid filled balloons are filled full of a dye such that if the balloon did deflate unexpectedly the patient’s urine would turn bright green and they would know to contact us so we could remove the balloon before it became problematic."
Mr Chris Sutton, Consultant Specialist Bariatric Surgeon at Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd
How Is A Gastric Balloon Removed?
The gastric balloon can remain in the stomach for up to six months, after which the stomach acid will erode the silicone shell. This can cause the material to deflate, and so surgeons recommend removal and replacement if required after six months of having a balloon in place.
Just as the balloon is inserted orally, it is removed the same way. The surgeon will insert a catheter and use this to puncture the balloon. Once deflated, it will be carefully pulled through the oesophagus and removed via the mouth.
For as long as the balloon is present in a patient, the surgeon may prescribe oral medication that can reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. This is to reduce the chances of irritation or damage to the silicone exterior, prolonging the life of the balloon.