Gastric banding, like other bariatric surgeries, alters the stomach to reduce food intake. In this procedure, a surgeon places a silicone gastric band, usually the LAP-BAND® (LAP-BAND is a registered mark of Allergan, Inc.), around the upper part of the stomach significantly restricting its size. As a result, patients eat much less and feel fuller more quickly resulting in gradual weight loss. A good candidate for LAP- BAND or gastric band surgery has a BMI greater than 40, or between 30 and 40 with at least one obesity- related health issue such as hypertension or diabetes. After LAP-BAND surgery, patients will generally lose weight at an average rate of one to two pounds per week. The LAP-BAND procedure, while not without possible complications, is widely considered a low-risk weight loss surgery.
LAP-BAND surgery usually takes about an hour under general anesthesia. Through laparoscopic incisions, a surgeon inserts the gastric band around the upper part of the stomach and locks it into place with sutures. The remaining portion of the stomach remains in its normal position. A port is then placed in the abdominal wall. The adjustable band connects to the port beneath the skin which can be tightened or loosened by filling the port with saline or removing it. Adjustments to the LAP-BAND do not occur until after six weeks to ensure that the stomach has had enough time to heal. These gastric banding procedures may be reversed if necessary.
Post-surgery, patients need a lot of rest but should try walking as much as possible to avoid risk of blood clots. Typically, patients may return to work within a week unless their job requirements are physically demanding. Within 4 to 6 weeks, patients often return to normal activity and regular exercise. On the diet side, patients need ample time to readjust to eating solid foods. For the first 1 to 2 weeks, doctors recommend a liquid-based diet as stomach swelling heals. In the following 6 to 7 weeks, semi-solid (soft/ moist foods) or pureed foods are introduced before returning to solid foods at the 8-week mark. The aftercare nutrition plan will also include vitamin and mineral supplements. Click the following link to learn more about the post-surgery LAP-BAND diet.
There are disadvantages to LAP-BAND surgery. Health risks include bleeding, infection, gastroesophageal reflux, and band erosion. Stomach band placement is not a definite fix; the stomach pouch may still stretch if continued overeating occurs. Patients must also return to doctor’s office frequently for adjustments and saline fills. On the plus side, the LAP-BAND procedure is reversible, adjustable, less invasive, and outpatient. The gastric band also does not interfere with the absorption process resulting in vitamin deficiencies like in gastric sleeve surgery. Studies show that gastric banding does improve health problems related to obesity, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. If patients follow the prescribed post-surgical regimen, they should expect to see these improvements and gradual weight loss.