This bio-degradable balloon is an exciting new development in the field of weight loss surgery. It is packaged into a small pill which can be swallowed. A quick Xray check is performed before gently inflating it with saline through fine tubing. Your practitioner then pulls the tubing leaving the balloon to sit inside the stomach. It self-empties approximately 4 months later and then passes out naturally. The action of gastric juice on a special part of the membrane erodes it within the approximate timeframe.
There is no requirement for surgery, camera endoscopy or anaesthesia and the whole procedure takes approximately 15 minutes to perform. You are able to return to work and normal activity soon after.
Gastric balloons may be making a comeback. They are temporary space occupying bags of liquid inserted into the stomach and left there for 6 months to 1 year to reduce calorie intake. For the first week or two individuals are really limited to fluids only. A balloon usually contains approximately half a litre of blue-coloured liquid which can lead to sensations of nausea as well as vomiting in the first few days. It is one of the lowest risk procedures that we can offer as it is inserted with an endoscope, however it can still cause inflammation or can rupture (blue liquid will colour urine as an indicator) in a very small percentage.
I consider them an introduction to the world of weight loss surgical procedures, only because the percentage of weight regain following removal is high and the risk of early removal due to disconcerting nausea ranges from 1-5%, so perhaps the least powerful tool we have available. However it allows an individual who does not want a permanent procedure, would like to avoid a general anaesthetic and would like to re-program their lifestyle to kick-start this process and use the balloon as a 6 month tool to achieve these goals. If all fails after removal the option of having any of the other three interventions (band, sleeve, bypass if eligible) is still open. Of course there are financial implications which many people will have to consider from the outset. That is the main reason why it is not really considered an option in the NHS, where investment is directed towards the most powerful operation that can achieve the goal of effective weight loss with its attendant benefits.
It is really important to have a full discussion with your surgeon to find out if this is a good option for you.
Inspiring story about a lady who following weight loss surgery started competing in her first triathlon. Apart from being able to finish it which she could never even dream of doing prior to surgery, it is has encouraged and stimulated her to plan to complete an Olympic distance triathlon and an Ironman challenge.
Perhaps the striking thing about this story is one’s internal desire to be able physically to do what previously was considered impossible. A “conquer the mountain” moment which is only possible with weight loss surgery in this case.
Choosing whether to get weight loss surgery can be a tricky and nerve-wracking decision, particularly as newspapers and magazines today are so full of often ill-informed and sensationalist stories about obesity and its associated health issues. Indeed, there are a number of myths proliferating about weight loss surgeries, as the following list demonstrates:
Myth 1: Weight loss surgery means consuming a liquid diet for the rest of your life
While liquids are recommended for the initial period after surgery, patients can expect to enjoy solid foods after a couple of weeks. Of course, they will not be able to consume the same amount of as before the surgery, but there are no real restrictions when it comes to the actual kinds of food they eat afterwards.
Myth 2: Weight loss surgery is an easy way out
Like all serious healthcare procedures and lifestyle changes, undergoing weight loss surgery does not mean patients will be able to go about their lives in the same way as they did before. Indeed, patients are urged to think about making dietary changes and take up exercise as part of their care plan, which will help prevent them from gaining weight again and undoing any positive changes that have been made.
Myth 3: Weight loss surgery will cause extensive scarring
All weight loss surgery is done with keyhole surgery (laparoscopically), meaning patients will only be left will a small mark. This is part of a wider trend for minimally invasive procedures across various parts of the healthcare system.
Myth 4: Having weight loss surgery prevents future pregnancies
While it is often advisable to wait a year or two after having surgery and to attain a lower weight before getting pregnant, weight loss surgery itself will not prevent women from having children. It should be noted, however, that having the surgery can cause some hormonal fluctuations, so it is a good idea to be patient if you are thinking of having children.
If you would like to learn more about weight loss surgery and the ways in which it might you reach a healthier, happier weight, or just have questions about how we can help; get in touch.
Obesity can be seen to cause a number of health issues, from just making daily life more difficult to serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses.
Some of the common problems caused by obesity can include:
Increased perspiration (sweating)
Obesity doesn’t just have a physical impact. Individuals also experience psychological implications as well. These can include low confidence, low self-esteem, isolation, panic attacks and depression. These associated conditions can affect relationships with loved ones, family, friends, work colleagues; and can also impact on wider aspects of a persons’ life.
Serious health conditions
Obesity can also lead to a wide variety of more serious health conditions. The more overweight a person becomes, the higher the risk of certain complications.
Obesity carries a higher risk of developing or experiencing the following:
Type 2 diabetes
some forms of cancer
atherosclerosis (the narrowing of the arteries due to fatty deposits)
sleep apnoea (a serious sleep condition where the person affected may stop breathing for a certain length of time whilst sleeping)
complications during pregnancy
a reduced overall life expectancy of around 3-10 years (on average).
Some data suggests that it might matter where you carry your weight when correlating the risk of certain conditions in relation to body mass. For instance, carrying your weight around the stomach may carry more health risks than carrying it around the hips and buttocks.
It’s also worth noting that while obesity does mean an increased risk of these conditions, a family history in any of the aforementioned conditions will likely mean an increased risk of developing them. Obesity affects different people in different ways and it is important that if you decide to make lifestyle changes and take action to lose weight, that you are supported and advised by a professional according to your individual needs.
How we can help you
We are dedicated to increasing your quality of life using specialist weight loss surgeries designed to give you back control of your life, health and body. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you achieve your weight goals.
Obesity in Kent has reached an all time high. Nearly 770,000 people in Kent are estimated to be either overweight or obese, one of the highest rates within the country. In order to be classed as obese, an individual must be 20% above their expected BMI level. Obesity is a serious matter that can have multiple effects on an individual’s health. Moderate obesity can reduce life expectancy by an average of three years, whilst morbid obesity reduces life expectancy by up to ten years. As well as this impact on mortality rates, the rise in obesity is putting an ever increasing pressure on our national health service.
The national level of obesity now lies at 15.8% of the population.
Below is a breakdown of the obesity levels within the Kent boroughs:
Medway – 19.3%
Dartford – 17.1%
Maidstone – 16.3%
Dover – 15.4%
As you can see Medway, which includes the towns of Rochester, Strood and Gillingham, is a staggering 3.5% above the national obesity average. Traditionally, obesity levels were highest to the North of London, but in recent years the South East and Kent, in particular, has seen a surge in the levels of obesity. It is predicted that by 2030 the national obesity level will have increased to 30% of the population, putting further pressure on health services and GPs.
A lack of education regarding healthy eating and the importance of physical exercise is largely to blame for this rise in obesity. Pressure on GPs means that, arguably, the NHS is struggling to provide the necessary support to tackle the obesity epidemic. However, there are other options for those who are feeling the negative impact of weight gain and obesity. Within Kent, there has been a rise in those looking to surgery to improve quality of life and tackle their obesity head on. Procedures such as Gastric bands, Sleeve Gastrectomy, Gastric Bypass and Gastric balloons can be offered within local surgeries. Surgeries in Dartford, Rochester, Gillingham, Gravesend, Strood and Maidstone, offer the services. Keeping it local means that patients can expect a straight forward experience, often only needing one-two nights in hospital. Weight loss surgery is an effective tool for long lasting weight loss, those who undergo the treatment experience long-term results and a new lease of life.
Please be aware that weight loss surgery is a tool that cannot guarantee weight loss and only works if the individual commits to a long-term change in lifestyle and eating behaviour.
Interested? If you would like to learn more about weight loss surgery and the positive impact it can have on your life please do get in touch…
I get quite a few requests every month to fill bands that have been inserted elsewhere. Usually a provider will offer a one or two year package which will include unlimited fills and defills. Once this period is over, the banded individual (bandit) will try to find a provider closer to home or perhaps someone more convenient in terms of cost or availability. This is all good if everything from operation to fills to weight loss is going swimmingly well. The flexibility provided demonstrates one of the great benefits of having a band which means that one can vary the restriction at any point in time by a simple injection performed in clinic. Many bandits request a band deflation and a period of rest if reflux is becoming problematic or they would like to enjoy a big event or holiday before re-filling.
When it comes to weight loss surgery, there are quite a few choices. You may have heard of gastric band and bypass procedures. However there are many others such as sleeve which is fast becoming very popular. Also balloon, mini-gastric bypass, gastric plication to name a few others.
Is this too much to handle? Not really, because believe it or not for a single individual the choice is quite limited.
Let’s consider the balloon first. This is a space occupying liquid filled bag that sits in the stomach but is only licensed to be there for 6 months to 1 year. Effectively this means that for most patients seeking a long term weight solution it is not an option. The most common and certainly most popular procedures are band, sleeve and bypass. A band is the only option which is flexible (restriction can be varied by filling or de-filling the band) and reversible (the whole thing can be taken out reverting the anatomy to what it was originally).
There are a few variables to be considered when tailoring the operation to suit an individual. The first is a consideration of BMI. Generally if BMI is between 30-40, band and sleeves are good options, however at a BMI of 40 and above a sleeve or bypass is generally recommended. That is because there are two inversely related factors at play; one is the power of the operation and the second is the risk profile. Power refers to the degree and sustainability of weight loss which puts bypass top, the sleeve and band least. Whilst all these operations are now safer than having your gallbladder removed the risk of bypass for example is more than a band.
Dietary factors and preferences are also important. So consider someone who eats large portion sizes with second helpings, does not have a preference for sweets and would like to have periods of rest for certain events/holidays etc… who has a BMI of 36. Armed with the above information I’m sure you’ve figured it out already. A band would be the right choice.
Researching your operation and obtaining as much information as possible helps us surgeons help you!
I am looking for advice, I am a gastric band patient and had my band fitted in 2009
Whilst I lost a significant amount of weight, I was never without heartburn, reflux or vomiting (I have had a fill under x-ray to rule out any complications).
I have not reached my desired weight and am contemplating further surgery. The bypass is the gold standard and if I am going to the cost and hassle of further surgery I want to make sure it will work
However, as my BMI is around 26 – which technically makes me overweight – I am having difficulties organising this. It appears that I can have a gastric sleeve but not a bypass In fact asking for a bypass is like asking someone to sew another head on me. Could you be more specific with the risks of bypass at a lower BMI?
I don’t understand that at a BMI of 35 (and say with hypertension) it is not possible but one point up to 36 and it’s ethical. If you’re overweight with a background of poor weight control would it not make sense?
Before I comment on the rationale for the guidelines regarding the BMI cut-off, I would just like to point out some of the inaccurate perceptions above. First, neither sleeve nor bypass would be an option at a BMI 26. In fact none of the bariatric procedures would be offered at a BMI which is just slightly over an ideal BMI of 25. Second, a band can be offered at a BMI of 30 or above, sleeve and bypass at a BMI of 35 and above with any obesity related co-morbidity.
Now that we’ve got the facts out of the way, I would honestly have to say that I fully understand and appreciate the point this person is trying to make. Obviously, the gastric band has worked and led to successful weight loss, however at a price. Constant reflux, heartburn and occasional vomiting are quality of life issues which can be frustrating but are common with band and to a lesser extent sleeve. The solution could possibly be conversion to a bypass. Not at a BMI of 26 though. This brings us to the inevitable dilemma of explaining the guidelines.
BMI guidelines were put into place to acknowledge the risk posed by surgery in the face of a condition which historically was not seen as a disease (although some countries have recently classified obesity as a disease). So the benefit-risk ratio is unfavourable at any BMI up to 35, bands are allowed at lower BMIs as the risk profile of surgery is very small. This has nothing to do with cost-effectiveness.
In the future two things may happen to change the guideline BMI downwards; the risk profile for surgery such as sleeve and bypass will continue to improve and research may show that operating on lower BMI patients has clear benefits in reversing but also preventing the occurrence of obesity related conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Until that happens, don’t blame your surgeon if they turn you down. They are only acting in your best interests.
If you were watching the fireworks this evening and thinking to yourself this is the year I will finally take the plunge and radically change my life, you were not alone! You probably need to act quickly before all those resolutions vanish into thin air. A quick round up of bariatric news from 2015 might give you inspiration.
So leaving you with these thoughts for the New Year, it is always advisable to discuss all your options with an expert who will take account of your individual circumstances and give you a full appraisal of the risks and benefits before you commit.