Many Americans have found themselves struggling to lose weight time and time again. While medical interventions may not be for everyone, overweight and obese people may find themselves looking at gastric balloons and surgical options to help them lose weight and keep it off. Here, we’ll look at the Obalon Balloon system in comparison with gastric sleeve surgery, which is currently the most popular weight loss surgery, in order to help those considering both determine which is the best choice for them.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Each?

While gastric sleeve patients and Obalon patients share the common goal of losing weight, whether a patient qualifies for one or both is determined by a variety of factors. The degree of obesity present is vital in determining whether or not a patient qualifies for either procedure. Although there may be some exceptions, patients usually need to be morbidly obese (meaning they have a BMI of 40 or above) in order to be considered a candidate for gastric sleeve surgery.

Am I a Candidate?

There are plenty of people who need help losing weight, but who are not morbidly obese, and this is where the Obalon Balloon system and Obalon Balloon diet come in. You must have a BMI between 30 and 40 to be a candidate for the Obalon system, meaning that you must be obese, but not morbidly obese.

The fact that the Obalon Balloon system has a different BMI range than the range for gastric sleeve surgery opens up the world of weight loss interventions to those who have not reached morbid obesity. Therefore, with this system, those who are struggling with weight loss can receive medical assistance earlier on in their struggle than was previously possible.

The Obalon Balloon system has a different BMI range than the range for gastric sleeve surgery opens up the world of weight loss interventions to those who have not reached morbid obesity. Therefore, with this system, those who are struggling with weight loss can receive medical assistance earlier on in their struggle than was previously possible.

While the above ranges are general guidelines, you and your doctor will need to work together to determine whether one of these treatment options is the right choice for you. Researching each therapy in depth prior to your consultation may help you discuss them with your doctor.

How Invasive is Each One?

A sleeve gastrectomy involves surgically removing a portion of the stomach. The part of the stomach that remains looks like a sleeve, which is how the procedure got its name.

While this is an efficient surgery, it still requires recovery time. By contrast, the Obalon Balloon system is a non-invasive procedure that involves swallowing a capsule that is later inflated. After the full treatment time has elapsed, the balloons are removed via an endoscopic procedure. The endoscopy may require light sedation, but no general anesthesia is involved.

How Does Each One Work?

The Obalon system involves using gas-filled balloons to take up space in the stomach. This makes it impossible to overeat, and it also creates a feeling of fullness. Patients on the Obalon system aren’t just treated with the balloons, though, as a major part of the Obalon Balloon system is the inclusion of physician-supervised diet and exercise programs. While the balloons aren’t placed indefinitely, the help jump-start weight loss, and the patient is able to continue using the provided diet and exercise programs after the balloons are removed.

Gastric sleeve surgery is somewhat similar in that it reduces stomach size, making it impossible for the patient to overeat to the degree they did before. Because the stomach works to produce ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite, removing a portion of it also can reduce feelings of hunger in patients who have undergone this surgery. While the reduction in stomach size may be permanent, a gastric sleeve surgery does not include physician-supervised diet and exercise plans, so a patient who wants to develop healthy habits may need to seek guidance elsewhere.

How Much Does Each Cost?

The exact cost of each procedure will vary depending on your location and other factors. However, on average, gastric sleeve surgery costs $19,000 without insurance and $3,500 with insurance. Some insurance providers may cover this surgery, while others do not.

The Obalon Balloon system costs $6,000 to $9,000 on average. It is not currently covered by most insurance companies, although it is possible that it will eventually be a covered procedure.

Learn About Obalon Costs >

Which Is Right for Me?

While gastric sleeve surgery is generally intended for the morbidly obese and the Obalon system is intended for those who are obese but not morbidly so, only a conversation between you and your doctor can determine which option is right for you. When trying to make a decision, it may be helpful to consider the cost of each procedure, how invasive each would be, and whether you feel as though you would be a good candidate for either one. By sharing your concerns with your doctor, you can make sure that you both arrive at the decision that’s best for your long-term health and well-being.

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