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All you need to know about gastric band surgery

What is gastric band surgery?

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) estimates that around 228,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the U.S. in 2017 (latest available data).


Of these, 3.4 percent were gastric bands, considered the least invasive weight loss surgery and FDA-approved in 2001.


Gastric band surgery is a procedure in which a bariatric surgeon uses laparoscopy to place an adjustable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach.


Squeezed by the silicone band, the stomach becomes a pouch with about an inch-wide outlet. After banding, the stomach can hold only about an ounce of food.

What are the benefits of a gastric band?

The benefits of gastric band surgery include:


  • Long-term weight loss

  • Least invasive weight loss procedures

  • Faster recovery when compared to other weight-loss surgeries

  • Reduced chance of wound infections and hernias

  • Decreases the risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, urinary incontinence, and other conditions related to obesity

  • No loss of nutrient absorption


On average, between 40 and 60 percent of excess weight may be lost, depending on the individual.

Who is an ideal candidate for a gastric band?

Any type of weight loss surgery is an option for those who are not able to cut down weight through diet and exercise.


However, following a stable diet and exercise is key for maintaining the results after the procedure.


The ideal candidate for gastric band surgery is someone with:


  • A BMI of 40 or more.

  • A BMI of 35 or more and a serious medical condition that might improve with weight loss. These conditions include sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

  • People who have tried other weight loss methods like exercise, dietary changes, or medications without long-term success.


Gastric band surgery is not intended for those with a current drug or alcohol abuse disorder, an uncontrolled psychiatric illness, or with a difficulty understanding the risks and benefits, outcomes, alternatives, and lifestyle changes that they will need to make following the operation.


Non-ideal candidates also include people with a certain stomach or intestinal disorder or take aspirin frequently.

What are the possible side effects of a gastric band?

Gastric banding is considered a safe and effective procedure when performed by a qualified and experienced bariatric surgeon.


Some of the common risks after gastric band surgery include:


  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Breathing problems

  • Device issues

  • Wound infection

  • Minor bleeding

  • Heartburn


Vitamin deficiencies are rare after gastric banding and the death risk is less than one in 3,000 operations.

What is the gastric band surgery like?

Gastric band surgery requires general anesthesia and takes about an hour as an outpatient procedure.


The procedure is performed using a small camera known as laparoscopy, allowing the surgeon to see inside. The surgery does not involve any cutting or stapling inside your belly.


Your bariatric surgeon will make 1 to 5 small surgical cuts in your abdomen to place the camera and the instruments needed to perform the surgery.


Then, a band around the upper part of your stomach is placed to create a small pouch that has a narrow opening that goes into the larger, lower part of your stomach. Later, the small incisions are closed.


Talk to your healthcare provider about any concerns before the surgery.

What should I expect after a gastric band surgery?

Gastric band surgery is an outpatient procedure and most patients go back home the same day.


The band is adjustable. You and your doctor can decide to loosen or tighten it in the future so you can eat more or less food.


Other adjusting reasons include having problems eating, not losing enough weight, and vomiting after you eat.

What should I expect in a gastric band recovery?

You should expect to resume most normal activities within two days and a week before going back to work.


Also, you will be required to stay on a liquid and mashed foods diet for two to three weeks after surgery before slowly adding soft to regular foods back to your diet in about six weeks.


You may need to take a daily multivitamin, plus a calcium-vitamin D supplement and additional nutrients, such as vitamin B12 or iron.


You should expect to undergo blood tests to make sure you don't have low blood iron (anemia), high blood glucose, or low calcium or vitamin D levels.

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