Newer, minimally invasive procedures

A few clinics in Australia offer (recently developed) minimally invasive procedures to treat obesity.

While they show good short-term results, evidence of their long-term risks and benefits is limited. They’re usually done as day procedures with relatively fast recovery and short downtime.

If you go for one of these procedures you’ll probably need to prepare as you would for major weight loss surgery. Learn more about preparing for surgery. You’ll also need to maintain a healthy lifestyle afterwards to keep the weight off.

HCF members may be able to claim for certain procedures, depending on the procedure and your level of cover. To learn more, call us on 13 13 34 .

Vagal blocking therapy

This involves implanting a device consisting of 2 electrodes connected to a neuroregulator in your abdomen to block the nerve signals between your brain and your stomach, with the aim of reducing feelings of hunger.

The electrodes are implanted laparoscopically to the vagal nerve trunks at the junction of your stomach and oesophagus so the procedure doesn’t alter your stomach anatomy. It’s suitable for people with a BMI of 27 to 40.


  • up to 37% excess weight loss after 12 months
  • fully reversible
  • easy to adjust, deactivate and remove.


  • possible side effects include pain, heartburn, constipation, nausea, depression and diarrhoea
  • possible surgical complications include infection, organ or nerve damage, movement or malfunction of the device and allergic reactions to the device.

Intragastric balloon

This is a non-surgical procedure in which your doctor inserts a balloon inside your stomach. Your stomach is accessed via a tube from your mouth. Once in place, your surgeon fills the balloon with salt water. The balloon takes up space in your stomach which makes you feel full sooner and so you eat less.

The intragastric balloon is a temporary procedure and is suitable for people with a BMI of 27 to 40. The balloon can be left in place for up to 6 months. A newer adjustable version of the device can last for 12 months.


  • no surgery required
  • short recovery period
  • 30% to 40% excess weight loss
  • can improve sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and arthritis
  • no need for vitamin or mineral supplements.


  • possible side effects include heartburn, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • faulty insertion can cause perforation or bleeding
  • the balloon can leak or burst
  • if the balloon deflates, your stomach may become blocked.


Another newer procedure involves placing a tube into your stomach through your abdominal wall. After each meal you use the tube to suction out part of your stomach contents, a process which may not appeal to everyone. You have to chew your food thoroughly so it won’t get stuck in the tube. The procedure is approved in Australia for adults with a BMI above 35


  • 54% to 61% excess weight loss
  • reversible
  • simple, day-surgery procedure
  • can be implanted without general anaesthesia
  • enables you to eat normal, healthy meals.


  • possible side effects include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • skin irritation around where the tube exits your abdomen and infection

Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

With this new procedure, your surgeon accesses your stomach via an instrument inserted through your oesophagus (food pipe). The instrument has a light and camera at the tip and it also has a device for making sutures (stitches).

Using the suturing device, the surgeon makes tucks inside your stomach wall. This reduces the volume of your stomach and the amount of food your stomach can hold. The sutures can be removed later on if required, or left in permanently. The procedure is offered to people with a BMI of over 30.


  • simple, day-surgery procedure
  • may reduce gastric reflux, heart disease, risk of stroke, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea and type 2 diabetes
  • reduces total body weight by 20% to 25% over 18 months.


  • abdominal pain, nausea, cramping and vomiting (usually short term)
  • requires general anaesthesia
  • bleeding and infection.


Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.