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Non-Surgical Procedure

intragastric balloons

The Orbera intragastric balloon is a non-surgical weight loss procedure. Orbera combines a clinically tested and proven medical device with your own customized plan and support team to effectively manage weight loss. The comprehensive, two-part program starts with a soft balloon placed in your stomach for six months to encourage portion control. The balloon is then removed and your support team will continue to guide you toward making healthy lifestyle choices. Patients lose 3.1 times more weight than with traditional diets alone*.

Orbera delays emptying of food out of your stomach, takes up space normally filled with food, reduces your hunger with less food, and stretches receptors in your stomach tricking your body into eating less.

how it works

The Orbera intragastric balloon is inserted and removed endoscopically at an outpatient surgery center, but also can be done in the hospital. Most people take 2-3 days off from work after the procedure.

The FDA requires that the Orbera be removed by 6 months after insertion. We remove Orbera endoscopically by month 6 after insertion. If additional weight loss is desired, another Orbera can be inserted again in the future.

As with any procedure, there can be risks. For the Orbera intragastric balloon, these are minimal. These include the balloon bursting and causing an obstruction, aspiration during endoscopic insertion or removal, acid reflux, abdominal pain, ulcer, and intolerance to Orbera. We take critical steps to minimize these risks.

More common is nausea and abdominal discomfort the week after insertion of the Orbera intragastric balloon. Your stomach wants to reject the balloon initially, then accomodates it. The first week can be pretty rough for some folks, although many patients have only minimal symptoms. We give you several prescription medications to minimize this. Hang in there. You can do it.

It’s critical to stay on a clear liquid diet for the day before insertion and removal of Orbera, and to have nothing by mouth, including liquids, for 12 hours before insertion and removal. If any food is seen in the stomach at the time of the procedure, the insertion or removal of Orbera will be aborted and rescheduled.


Expect to lose weight the most rapidly during the initial 2 week induction phase on your liquid protein diet*. It would not be uncommon to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks! You’ll lose weight more slowly during the next 5 months, and may even experience some plateaus. We’ll rev up your weight loss again 2 weeks prior to removal of your intragastric balloon with a liquid protein diet. You’ll then continue your selected diet for the next 6 months to round out our 12 month program.

Expect to lose about 3.1 times more weight with the Orbera intragastric balloon than with dieting alone*. For most people, that’s around 30 to 40 pounds*. 

The key for long term success is to maintain the healthy eating habits you learn during the 12 month weight loss program for the rest of your life. It’s all about the lifestyle change.


Adults age 18-70 with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 40. No comorbidities necessary. No previous stomach surgery. Belly, or abdominal surgery, is okay, as long as the surgery was not on the stomach (like previous bariatric surgery, a laparoscopic acid reflux surgery, a lap-band, or ulcer surgery).

lifestyle coach

One of the keys to success is having a person who is well versed in managing the diet of Orbera patients to coach and encourage them, as well as hold them accountable. At Alabama Bariatrics, that person is EmmaLaura. EmmaLaura has a degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science from Auburn University and runs the Intragastric Balloon Program at Alabama Bariatrics.


Exercise is also critical to your success. We recommend that you join a gym or fitness center. EmmaLaura, who is trained in exercise physiology and also was a trainer with the U.S. Olympic handball team, can help you design your personalized exercise program.

the intragastric balloon diet

Part of how the Orbera system works is for you to be on a diet for the entire 6 months you have the balloon or balloons in place, then continue that diet for another 6 months.


  • Weeks 1 and 2: liquid diet, protein shakes emphasized.
  • Weeks 3 to month 6: your personalized diet plan.
  • 2 Weeks prior to removal: liquid protein diet.
  • Months 7 to 12: continue on your personalized diet plan.
  • Beyond 12 months: continue your new lifestyle.

diet choices

If you have had another diet in the past that has worked for you, or if you would like to try a diet that is not on the above list, go for it! Your Lifestyle Coach will help you decide which diet works best for you. And if it’s not working, you can make a change.

Some patients may elect to do their 12 months of dieting with an established local physician-supervised diet program. This should be a legitimate weight loss clinic approved by Dr. Suggs, not simply going to a primary care doctor who may have never seriously run a weight loss program, or doing it all on your own. If utilizing another weight loss clinic, Dr. Suggs will provide technical services for placing and removing your intragastric balloon and make sure it continues to function properly, but you will not be seeing the Lifestyle Coach.

get started now

discover your path to a healthier you

Start a healthier life free from obesity by taking our 60-second Quiz. Call us at 256-274-4523 or fill out the Contact Us form. We will get back to you within 24 hours to set up your consultation. It’s that simple.