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Coffee Morning Whispers

"Did you know that instead of a gastric band you can now get an intragastric balloon inserted internally that can help you lose weight?" sighed Maggie, as she pressed her finger on the few remaining crumbs of her cupcake to make sure she got every last one of them into her gob.

"Where exactly do they insert it?" demanded Patsy, getting straight to the nub of the matter.

"What do you mean 'WHERE do they insert it?'"

"Well, you know, do they insert it up the jaxie with like a bicycle pump or something?" Patsy replied as she made a pumping motion with her hands which looked vaguely disgusting.

"I'm having an involuntary clenching of the buttocks just thinking about that," said Josie. She wasn't the only one.

Anyway, you will be delighted to know that the balloon isn't inserted up the jaxie or any other orifice below the waist. Instead, the patient is anaesthetised and the balloon is inserted through the oesophagus and into the stomach. It is then filled with sterile saline to inflate it and left there for up to six months.

The idea is that the patient will eat less because they will feel full as the balloon is taking up almost 70pc of the space in their stomach.

"Why would anyone, besides a drug smuggler, want to insert an inflated balloon in their stomach?" I asked, but I may as well have been talking to the wall.


"It's a non-invasive procedure," Maggie breezily replied, as if it was along the same lines as having your teeth cleaned.

It may be non-invasive but that doesn't mean it is risk-free. Patients can suffer from severe nausea and vomiting during the first week after insertion.

Occasionally the balloon can deflate and obstruct the intestines or it can perforate the abdomen which can be life threatening. The ruptured balloon can pass through the intestines on its own or may need a procedure to remove it.

Patients will know when the balloon ruptures because the blue dye in the saline solution will turn their urine green. As my mother would say: "That can't be good for you."

However, research shows that successful weight loss with the balloon is dependent upon changes in lifestyle and those changes consist of nothing more earth shattering than diet and exercise.

So, moral of the story; if you don't diet and exercise, the balloon won't work, but if you do diet and exercise then you will lose weight anyway, which renders the balloon about as useful as a condom machine in the Vatican.

"See how I've just saved you about €5,000," I said to Maggie.

"Meany pants," she replied.

Honestly some people ...