Is it safe to fly with a gastric balloon?
Spatz3 is the world’s only Adjustable Gastric Balloon System
One of the best things about a gastric balloon is that it doesn’t limit most of your regular life activities, so to answer the question of “can you fly with a gastric balloon”—yes, you can; however, there are some things you should be aware of when it comes to flying with a gastric balloon.
Can You Fly with a Gastric Balloon and When?
Gastric balloons are non-surgical and relatively non-invasive weight loss interventions that involve inserting a balloon into your stomach and then inflating it, making you feel full faster, eat less, and thus lose weight. Gastric balloons are typically inserted for a six to twelve months depending on the balloon you choose.
While the procedure is not surgical and recovery is rather quick, you will still feel a sense of nausea, fullness, and possibly heartburn for three to four days post insertion and inflation. After that, you’re welcome to slowly resume normal activities.
If flying is one of those activities, then you’re cleared for takeoff.
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Is It Safe to Fly with a Gastric Balloon?
It is safe to fly with a gastric balloon. For example, some wonder if you will have any issues getting through security with a gastric balloon. The answer is ‘no’. Because the gastric balloon is silicone, there isn’t any possibility that a metal detector or an X-Ray machine will pick up the gastric balloon.
What Happens with a Gastric Balloon in a Plane?
While the likelihood of issues happening with a gastric balloon in a plane are unlikely, it is possible that altitude changes may lead to discomfort. Some report feeling cramping and bloating during and after flights. Again, this unfortunate side effect associated with having a gastric balloon in a plane is due to altitude changes and is unavoidable.
You can minimize side effects with medications. It is advised to get any medications you may need to take on board for nausea, gas, or pain pre-filled by your doctor and pre-approved by the airlines as the items individuals can bring on board are subject to airline discretion.
Note that very few people experience issues flying with a gastric balloon; however, if you are prone to discomfort, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Do make sure you have a rideshare, taxi, friend, or relative pick you up and drive you after your flight if you do take medication. It is ill-advised to drive under the influence of pain or nausea medications because they can make you groggy.
Tips for Flying with a Gastric Balloon
To reiterate, it’s safe to fly with a gastric balloon at any point after your balloon is inserted, adjusted, or removed. A few tips for flying with a gastric balloon are:
- It’s a good idea to wait until initial nausea, cramping, gas, bloating, or other side effects wear off. This usually happens after a few days.
- Do not worry about the metal detectors or the X-Ray if you need to pass through it; the gastric balloon is silicone and will not be affected nor will it cause you any inconvenience.
- Be aware that there’s a possibility the balloon will react to altitude adjustments, which may cause cramping and bloating.
- Contact your doctor and the airline in advance of traveling and bring any nausea or pain medications you believe you may need before your trip.
- Make arrangements for transportation after your plane arrives if you believe there’s a possibility you will need any medications that could cause you to be drowsy or in case you are in pain after your plane lands.
Discomfort and issues with travel after a gastric balloon are rare. You will typically be able to resume normal flying and other travel after your gastric balloon is inserted. So, to answer the question can you fly with a gastric balloon—the answer is yes!
Gastric balloons are silicone balloons that are inserted in a relatively non-invasive procedure under mild sedation. The side effects are minimal and only last a few days, which enables you to resume normal activities like flying for the duration of your gastric balloon treatment. Learn more about gastric balloons by contacting us at Spatz Medical. Find out if a gastric balloon is right for you!