Last Updated 09/08/2022

Interested in knowing more about Gastric Balloon In Nigeria?

Great! Because today we will be discussing the gastric balloon and other common surgeries as a method for weight loss.

Common, lets dive in!

The Brief Description of the Stomach Anatomy

For the surgical methods to make any sense, we first need to understand how our stomach works. 

The stomach is a “J shaped bag”, it is part of the digestive track. The top end is attached to the Oesophagus (the long pipe that food comes down the middle of our chest, after we swallow) and the bottom end it is connected to the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine).

The stomach is a highly active organ. It can stretch and contract continuously, changing its size.

These contractions and stretching serves two main purpose.

The first is the mechanical assistance to digestion, crunching and breaking up food mixture to mush. 

The second is to allow expansion when we eat, like elastic.

The empty stomach is only about the size of your fist, but it can stretch to hold as much as 4 litres of food and fluid(or more than 75 times its empty volume!!)

When empty, it will recoil back to its resting size. So essentially, the size of the stomach is determined by how much we eat, not how big we are. 

When we eat, the fullness and stretch triggers a nerve in the stomach called the vagus nerve.

This sends a signal to our brain to tell us, that’s enough, stop eating now. But this signal takes a bit of time, and we tend to eat so fast and over consume before the signal arrives back. 

So, by the time we have that “I can’t take one more bite feeling,” we have pushed things so much that we crash on the sofa, loosen our clothes, and feel like we cannot breathe, never mind eat more food!

That is why we are always told to eat slowly, and drink water before we start eating, to give our body a bit of a head start and a chance for the stretch signals to catch up and stop us from overeating and gaining weight. 

Bariatric or weight loss surgeries

Bariatric (aka obesity) surgery exploits the way in which the stomach works to help weight loss. They promote the feeling of fullness and reduce how much the stomach can stretch, so less food will be consumed, resulting in weight loss. 

These are major operations; they can lead to significant weight loss and help in the management of obesity related diseases like type 2 diabetes and hypertension. 

They are usually reserved for very obese people as defined by their body mass index (BMI). BMI is a calculation that uses your weight and height to determine if your current weight is healthy.

 BMI interpretation:

< 18.5 – Underweight 

18.5 – 24.9 – Normal weight 

25 – 29.9 – Overweight 

> 30 – Obese

Because surgery carries risk, there must be a risk vs benefit assessment before proceeding.

Patients should have tried traditional diet and exercise and failed. Generally, surgery is offered to people with BMI > 40 or 35 – 39 with obesity related condition like diabetes and hypertension. Private clinics may operate on people with lower BMI.

Gastric Balloon

As far as bariatric surgery goes this is the least invasive. 

Infact, some people do not even consider it as surgery, as the abdomen (tummy) is not cut open, neither is it entered via a keyhole approach.

Instead, a soft balloon is placed in the stomach, using a thin tube (endoscope) passed down the throat.

Once in the stomach the balloon will be inflated with air or salt water. This creates the feeling of fullness. The idea is that as you always feel full, you will eat less, and therefore lose weight. 

This is not a permanent solution, and the tube should not be left in for more than 6 months.

Again, in the league of bariatric surgeries, gastric balloon gives poor results. The good thing about it is because it is not invasive, recovery is very quick.

The procedure lasts minutes and the patients tend to go home the same day. In Nigeria this procedure does not appear to be rampant, but interest seems to be slowly developing as it gets more publicised.

Side effects includes nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating. Serious complication can include stomach ulcer or balloon rupture.  

Other bariatric surgeries

Other common bariatric surgeries include:

Gastric band: A band is placed and tightened around the upper part of the stomach. It takes less food to fill this small pouch up, so you eat less overall, as you will feel full after a small amount of food.  

Sleeve gastrectomy: In this method about 80% of the stomach is cut out, leaving a long, tube-like pouch. This smaller stomach can't hold as much food. It also produces less of the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin, which may reduce hunger.

Gastric bypass: Like the other methods, a small pouch is made at the top of the stomach, but then this pouch is connected directly to the small intestine, missing out (by passing) the rest of the stomach and some portions of the small intestine. As well as creating that sense of fullness (so you eat less overall), this method reduces the number of calories you absorb from the food you eat.

Note that Sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass cause more weight loss compared to gastric band, but they also have higher rates of serious complications compared to gastric band.

“What’s it gonna be?!”

So, you have completed your surgery and made a great recovery. What’s next? Will you return to the way you use to eat or not? The ball is in your court, so what’s it gonna be?!. 

Okay, I will help. No, you are not going back to the way you use to eat before. At this point you are probably saying I will eat healthy foods. Although this is music to my ears, I need you to hold up. I want to take you further back. Before we even get to food and exercise, we are going to tackle the mind.Yes, you heard me right. 

I am going to quote the wonderful Mr Femi Oja here. He eloquently coined the B-H-W-D system, a hierarchy pyramid system that is an essential foundation for successful and sustained weight loss. You know what they say about a house with poor foundation right? Good!

At the base of the pyramid is B = Belief. This covers your thoughts and feelings about food, diet, and yourself. This is followed by H = Habit. This covers things you just do without thinking (like brushing your teeth every morning). Then W =willpower. These are things you make yourself do or not do. And lastly D = diet and exercise.

Our beliefs determine our actions. They can be changed and shaped with knowledge and experiences. Identify what beliefs hinders your weight loss and seek the truth and experiences to correct and reshape them to ones that align with your goals.  

Then perform actions that supports this new believe(s). The aim is not instant perfection but steady consistency. In time these actions will become second nature, moving you on to the next level of the pyramid – Habit!

With good habits, good results will come. Use routine triggers to remind you to stick to your habits, keep it simple (so you don’t give up early) and make it rewarding (so you feel good about doing it). 

W = willpower, this is of limited use in the game of weight loss. Use your limited willpower to form new habits. D = Diet and exercise. When you have B-H-W all sorted, then your prescribed diet and exercise will be much easier to follow.Anyway, don’t just take my word for it. Grab yourself a copy of his amazing book. You will thank me later! 

In essence, no matter the method you choose to lose weight, you must cultivate healthy habits and behaviours to maintain the results of your surgery. And a good mindset can make the difference between success and failure.

Gastric Balloon In Nigeria Conclusion

Obesity surgery like Gastric Balloon should be a last resort when all other attempts at weight loss have failed and there are obesity related health complications like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Even then, it needs careful consideration by balancing the risks of obesity against the chances of success and possible complications.

It is not a type of cosmetic surgery, nor is it an alternative to healthy eating habits and regular exercise.

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