Gastric Balloon Vs Lap Band: What's The Difference?

By: GI Alliance


If you are searching for a weight loss solution that is effective and also reversible, you may have narrowed your search down to the gastric balloon and the gastric band, otherwise known as the Lap Band. Both meet the criteria of delivering weight loss results with the option of reversibility. However, there are also many differences between these two procedures, and knowing these differences just might help you make the decision that is best for you and your health.

Defining Gastric Balloon and Lap Band

Before we delve into the qualities that separate these two options, it is important first to understand what each offers: • Gastric Band – The gastric band is an adjustable band that is placed around the upper portion of the stomach. This restriction slows the consumption of food, as the part of the stomach above the band fills more quickly and leads to a feeling of fullness. • Gastric Balloon – The gastric balloon is inserted into the stomach through the esophagus and then inflated. By occupying space within the stomach, the balloon restricts the amount of food that can be consumed and leads to feeling full faster.

Gastric Balloon is Less Invasive than Lap Band

The Lap Band is considered to be minimally invasive, using laparoscopic placement through small cuts along the stomach and requiring less downtime than alternatives such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. However, the gastric balloon is the only non-invasive option among these weight loss procedures. By being endoscopically inserted and inflated through the esophagus, the balloon circumvents the need to make any cuts and drastically reduces the associated recovery time.

Complications from the Gastric Balloon and Lap Band

Any procedure comes with potential complications, but ideally, those risks should be relatively low. However, in recent years, the Lap Band has dropped in popularity, partly due to its high risk of complication, which has been reported to be anywhere from 25 – 50 percent. These complications can range from the relatively harmless such as constipation and GERD to far more severe problems such as blood clots and esophageal dilation. The associated risks with gastric balloon are far less prevalent and severe. Most patients have no side effects at all, with the most commonly noted complications include vomiting and abdominal pain that subsides within a few days. Additional complications, although rare, may include balloon deflation or pancreatitis.

Weight Loss Success from Gastric Balloon and Lap Band

Both the gastric balloon and Lap Band require that patients commit to a certain lifestyle and dietary changes to achieve and maintain maximum weight loss results. In the case of the Lap Band, there is typically an immediate weight loss that quickly slows to a steadier pace in the following 2-3 years. Still, inadequate weight loss following the surgery is a concern and accounts for 40 percent of all band removals. Unlike the band, which many patients consider to be a permanent fix, the gastric balloon procedure comes with an upfront disclosure regarding its temporary nature and the patient’s commitment. There will be medically-backed, weight loss support throughout the process, as balloon recipients learn how to best care for their bodies through diet and exercise. Additionally, the balloon comes with the understanding that it will be removed after six months. It is not a quick fix. Rather, it is a way to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle by putting patients on the path to success with early weight loss and medical support. If you have a BMI between 30 and 40 and are searching for a healthy way to begin your weight loss journey without invasive surgery, the gastric balloon could be the best option for you. Learn more by requesting a consultation through O.N.E. Weigh with any of our skilled gastroenterologists, and begin your journey to health.