Gastric Sleeve Surgery vs. Gastric Balloon Procedure

Gastric Sleeve Surgery vs. Gastric Balloon Procedure

Struggling to lose weight is a discouraging and frustrating experience. If you have tried to lose weight through diet and exercise, but found those alone weren’t working for you, perhaps you are looking for other options. The gastric sleeve and gastric balloon weight loss procedures have helped many people achieve lasting weight loss. These procedures have some similarities and differences, and one may work better for some people than the other. Scheduling a consultation with a bariatric surgeon is important if you are ready for weight loss surgery, but if you are just starting to explore your options, then learning more about both procedures can help you make an informed decision.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

During gastric sleeve surgery, a portion of your stomach is removed so that the remaining stomach has a much smaller capacity, which physically limits the amount of food you can consume at one time. Your remaining stomach is narrower, around the shape and size of a banana. This results in feeling full faster and allows you to control your hunger and eat less food. Levels of ghrelin, a hormone produced in the stomach, drop after the operation. Ghrelin is related to hunger, so having lower levels in your bloodstream helps reduce cravings and feelings of hunger.

Gastric Balloon Procedure

The gastric balloon is a non-surgical procedure where one or two balloons are inserted through your mouth into your stomach while you are under light sedation. This procedure is low risk and reversible; the balloons are removed six months later. The balloons take up space in your stomach, making you feel satisfied with smaller amounts of food. This built-in portion control helps you adopt healthier eating habits so that you can continue to maintain your weight loss after the balloons are removed.


Both procedures are restrictive, meaning they reduce the size of the stomach. Less stomach space makes the body feel full faster and experience less hunger. They also decrease the amount of ghrelin in your bloodstream so you feel less hungry. Both are safe and effective at promoting weight loss along with a healthy diet and exercise. The gastric sleeve generally promotes more weight loss than the gastric balloon. The key to success with either method is motivation and commitment. The gastric sleeve and gastric balloons are tools to help you achieve your weight loss goals, but to be successful you must commit to a healthier lifestyle.

Non-Invasive vs. Minimally Invasive

The gastric balloon is non-invasive, involving no cuts inside or outside the body. The gastric sleeve is minimally invasive because it involves some cuts both inside and outside the body. The cuts are minimal, but—like with any medical procedure—can sometimes lead to complications, including blood clots, infection and leaking. Because the gastric balloon is non-invasive, it doesn’t have these risks.

Temporary vs. Permanent

The gastric balloon is temporary; it’s removed after six months, or sooner if necessary. It therefore doesn’t have long term consequences. On the other hand, the gastric sleeve is permanent. Often, this is an advantage, but it can have downsides too. You may need to take daily supplements to make sure your nutritional needs are being met, and some people find they have new food sensitivities after the procedure.

Different Candidates

Different people qualify for the two procedures. For the gastric sleeve, you must have a BMI over 40, or at least one obesity-related disease and a BMI over 35. You must show you are committed to weight loss and be healthy enough for the surgery. The gastric balloon requires the same commitment to weight loss, but only requires a BMI over 27. It is a good option for people wanting to try to lose weight naturally. The gastric balloon provides an option for people who had few weight loss options in the past besides diet and exercise because they weren’t candidates for weight loss surgery.

Recovery Time

Because the gastric balloon is non-invasive, it involves little downtime. Balloon insertion is a quick procedure that doesn’t require a hospital stay; you’ll usually be able to go home in a few hours. A brief period of adjustment follows as your body gets used to the presence of the balloon(s). A minority of patients experience mild dehydration. Recovery times for the gastric sleeve vary, but most patients are able to resume normal activity in one to two weeks.

Weight Loss Results

The gastric sleeve is more likely to lead to dramatic weight loss than the gastric balloon. People seeking to lose between 20 and 40 pounds should consider the gastric balloon, but those who are looking for more significant weight loss should consider the gastric sleeve.

Choosing a Procedure

The procedure that’s best for you depends on a number of factors, including your health, BMI and how much weight you want to lose. Finding out if your insurance will cover the procedure and how they do so can also impact your decision. If you are considering either procedure, the best thing to do is schedule a consultation with Dr. Thomas A. Borland, a nationally recognized bariatric surgeon. Dr. Borland will take your medical history, personal goals and health into account to recommend an appropriate option for your situation. No matter what your weight loss goals, we are committed to helping you achieve them as effectively as possible. The gastric sleeve and gastric balloon procedures are great options for many people who have tried to lose weight with diet and exercise alone without much success. If you are struggling to lose weight, there are options available to help you achieve your goals.