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patient talking with her doctor
patient talking with her doctor

Botulinum Toxin Stomach Injections for Weight Loss

Injecting botulinum toxin into the stomach wall temporarily relaxes the muscles and slows stomach emptying. The procedure can help you feel full longer after eating, making it easier to eat less and lose weight.

What You Need to Know

  • Botulinum toxin stomach injection is a minimally invasive outpatient weight loss procedure.
  • It may be appropriate for people with moderate weight loss goals, and it typically leads to a loss of 5% to 10% of body weight.
  • The effect of the injection lasts about three months, and you can repeat the procedure every six months.
  • Botulinum toxin weight loss injections work best when combined with a nutritious diet and regular exercise, and can jumpstart a healthier lifestyle.

What is botulinum toxin gastric injection for weight loss?

Injecting the muscles inside the stomach with botulinum toxin A, or BT-A — such as Botox, Dysport, Xeomin and Mybloc — is a minimally invasive weight loss procedure. The injections are done using an endoscope, a flexible tube equipped with a syringe, inserted into the stomach through the mouth.

The medication immobilizes the muscles of the stomach wall for about three months and prevents them from contracting. This keeps food in the stomach longer, slowing digestion and helping you feel fuller faster and for a longer time.

Who might be a candidate for botulinum toxin weight loss injections?

Botulinum toxin stomach injections may be a good option for adults who:

  • Have moderate weight loss goals such as to lose weight before an elective surgery or to assist with fertility
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 40
  • Have not had success with lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise
  • Want to jump-start a healthier lifestyle
  • Want to reduce the risk of weight-related illness, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, sleep apnea or heart disease.

Preparing for an Endoscopic Botulinum Toxin Gastric Injection

Follow your doctor’s instructions before the procedure. They may include:

  • Not eating and drinking for a certain period before the procedure.
  • Changing the dosages or timing of your medications on the day(s) leading up to the procedure.

What happens during gastric botulinum toxin injection?

The procedure takes place in an endoscopy center, and the injections take about 10 minutes.

To perform the gastric botulinum toxin injections, the doctor:

  • Gives you sedating medication to make you sleepy.
  • Inserts an endoscope equipped with a syringe into your mouth and down your throat into the stomach. The endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and a camera, allows the doctor to see where to place the injections.
  • Injects botulinum toxin in several spots around the bottom of the stomach.

Johns Hopkins Endoscopic Weight Loss Program

The team with the Endoscopic Weight Loss Program offers innovative weight loss procedures that do not require invasive surgery. We take a collaborative approach to obesity management that combines the expertise of many specialists, which helps us offer high-quality care and enable long-term weight loss.

Recovery After Botulinum Injections in the Stomach

Once the sedation wears off, you can go home. You will need someone to drive you as you may still be drowsy.

In about a week to 10 days after the procedure, you should begin to notice you are less hungry, become full faster when eating and are able to feel satisfied with less food.

Complications and Side Effects of Gastric Botulinum Toxin Injections

Botulinum toxin injections in the stomach are safe for those who do not have muscle problems and who are not allergic to botulinum toxin. The injections may result in a very small amount of bleeding inside the stomach. Most people have little to no side effects.

Losing Weight with Gastric Botulinum Toxin Injections

Studies show that a successful stomach injection with botulinum toxin can result in a weight loss of about 5% to 10% over six months.

For best results, work with a doctor or dietitian, who might recommend incorporating regular exercise into your routine, and following a diet that emphasizes healthy and nutritious foods.

Your doctor may also suggest:

  • Eating slowly to avoid stomach discomfort.
  • Chewing your food thoroughly.
  • Stopping when you feel full.

The botulinum toxin will immobilize, or freeze, your stomach muscles for about three months, after which you may notice the effects beginning to wear off. You may be able to have a repeat procedure six months after your last.

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