Gastric Balloon - Is a Numbing Spray Better Than Sedation?

Preparing for a gastric balloon insertion. This will be followed by a gastric bypass in 6 months time.
Was giving the options of a throat numbing spray or a semi-sedation. Will be awake but apparently not able to feel anything. Any advice on what is best? 

Doctor Answers 4

Hmmm, Very Interesting....

The good new is that this may not be an "Either/Or Question"!

Gastric balloons are most commonly placed endoscopically.  That means the surgeon or gastroenterologist will put a long tube (endoscope) down your throat that has a camera at the end (so they can see!).  They can then pass the balloon down into your stomach and inflate it under direct vision.  Before I do endoscopy, I generally give a spray numbing solution to the back of a patient's throat.  This just seems to make the procedure a bit more tolerable for the patient.  Most of the time, they will ALSO give you sedation prior to this procedure.  The medicines are a combination that not only help you relax, but also give you temporary amnesia so that you usually don't even remember the balloon being placed!  Most patients remember being in the holding area and then the next thing they remember is waking up in the recovery room.  You'll be awake the whole time they place the balloon, you just don't remember it.   

Getting a balloon placed really isn't that bad and for many patients it's a great way to get them to lose some weight before their definitive procedure.  Good Luck!


Corpus Christi Bariatric Surgeon

Gastric balloon requiring no sedation

A new gastric balloon can be swallowed like a pill and then filled while in the stomach, requires no sedation for insertion. This kind of balloon is not yet commercially available.

The treatment involves patients swallowing a capsule that quickly dissolves in the stomach to reveal a deflated gastric balloon. With a thin catheter attached to the device, but long enough to remain outside the patient’s mouth, a physician fills the balloon with Water to about the size of a grapefruit. The catheter is then removed, while the balloon remains in the stomach for four months. At that point, a valve designed to open on its own, allows the balloon to empty and be excreted naturally from the body, eliminating the need for endoscopy and sedation.


Elias Darido, MD, FACS
Houston Bariatric Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Gastric Balloon - spray vs sedation or both?

Typically most surgeons and gastroenterologists use both spray and intravenous sedation to make the patient feel comfortable and as close to pain free as possible. The spray is to reduce the gagging that may occur with scope insertion in the mouth and the IV sedation is to cause relaxation, pain control and amnesia. The gastric balloon is a good option for some weight loss in preparation for a more definitive surgical procedure.

Ricardo M. Bonnor, MD, FACS
Houston General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Numbing spray AND Sedation for Stomach Balloon Placement

Congratulations on the steps you have decided to take to help bring your weight down and help improve your health.  If you've never had an endoscopy before I can understand how the thought of being sedated might be scary.  In my practice I typically will use a throat numbing spray to make the patient more comfortable even in the setting where they are being deeply sedated.   I recommend both.  

I wonder if perhaps your surgeon was not offering light sedation with throat numbing spray versus the option of general anesthesia - where you would be completely asleep with a breathing tube placed for the duration of the procedure.  Since balloon placement can be completed in about 20 minutes, sedation alone is usually adequate.  The use of the numbing spray in that setting will help improve your ability to tolerate the sensation of the endoscope being placed into your mouth and throat without activating the gagging reflex as intensely. 

Good luck!!

Daniel J. Rosen, MD
New York Bariatric Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

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