The Basics of Gastric Banding

by Dan Broderick
(Auckland, New Zealand)

Gastric banding is the most common form of weight loss surgery in Europe and Australia, and is quickly gaining popularity in the United States!.

The procedure is approved by the FDA and is usually performed laparoscopically. This makes it one of the least invasive approaches to treating obesity, because the stomach nor the intestine is cut during the procedure.

The amount of weight loss by an individual after the procedure depends on their willingness to commit to a diet and exercise program.

The procedure can help individuals achieve longer lasting weight loss by limiting the amount consumed by a person, reducing the appetite, and slowing digestion.

The gastric banding technique involves the laparascopic placement of a hollow silastic band around the upper part of the stomach. The band divides the stomach into a small upper pouch above the band and a larger pouch below the band.

The smaller gastric pouch limits the amount of food a patient can eat at one time. Patients of the surgery will experience a feeling of fullness after eating a small amount of food. The size of the opening between the two parts of the stomach can be adjusted.

Adjusting the size of the opening controls, how much food passes from the upper to the lower part of the stomach. The opening(stoma) between the upper and lower parts of the stomach can be easily decreased or increased by injecting or removing saline from the band.

The hollow band is connected by a tube to a reservoir placed beneath the skin during the surgical procedure. After the surgery, the surgeon or Nurse Practitioner will be able to control the amount of saline in the band by piercing the reservoir through the skin with a fine needle.

Having the band adjusted is a normal part of the gastric banding follow-up. The silicone band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, and is adjustable after surgery. The band used in the gastric banding procedure is removable as well as adjustable, and does not permanently alter the anatomy.

Gastric banding provides an effective option for patients who may be considering other surgical treatment for obesity. There is a short hospital stay involved in having the gastric banding procedure, and there are no effects in the absorption of nutrients.

Having the gastric banding procedure can lead to a significant amount of weight loss. The estimated weight loss for many patients is about 40 to 50 percent of their excess weight, which occurs over a period of two years.

It is common for many patients to have a difficult time tolerating red meat, pasta, rice, fresh bread and fibrous foods. After the surgery patients will be asked to eat three meals a day with one planned snack.

Patients must also chew their food slowly and must swallow slowly, and are also required to only drink no or low caloric beverages. There should also be at least an hour between eating and drinking.

Eating balanced meals will help patients maintain their weight loss, and may help many lose more than expected.

Weighing the Odds Possible Complications of Gastric Banding

Gastric banding is a healthy alternative to the gastric bypass procedure. Although the procedure is proven to be safer, but there are some risks incurred with having gastric banding.

There are some complications of weight loss surgery that may cause death for many individuals. However, many patients won’t experience any serious complications, if they have an experienced surgeon.

The possible risks of gastric banding should be discussed with the doctor before having the surgery. There are fewer risks incurred with the gastric banding surgery, because limits the size of the stomach but it does not change the intestinal tract or cause the malabsorption of nutrients.

There are some common risks some major risks, and general risks that accompany patients that are overweight.

The common risks of the gastric banding procedure are nausea, vomiting, and gastroesophageal reflux. The gastric banding procedure does not cause “dumping syndrome,” which is a common complication of gastric bypass surgery.

Half of all patients experience nausea and vomiting, and approximately one-third of the patients suffer gastroesophageal reflux. One-fourth of the patients will experience a slippage of the band, and one in seven patients will experience a blockage of the passage between the divided sections of the stomach.

Some moderate to severe complications includes erosion of the band into the stomach and twisting or leaking of the access port. Patients may also experience the common complications of dysphagia(trouble swallowing), constipation and diarrhea.

Less than 1 percent of patients may experience other complications, such as gastritis(inflammation of the stomach), migration of the stomach above the diaphragm(hiatal hernia), inflammation of the pancreas(pancreatitis), dehydration, chest pain, and infection.

Death is the most serious risk to consider when having the gastric banding procedure. Few deaths have been reported since its introduction in 1994, and the death risk for the surgery is less than 1 percent.

There has been no instance of death from the surgery reported in Australia, where 90 percent of all weight loss surgeries are gastric banding. There are also some general risks that come with having the gastric banding procedure, but these risks are most commonly associated with age, weight, reaction to anesthesia, and the presence of disease.

It is possible for 1 percent of patients to experience gastric perforation(a tear in the wall of the stomach) during the gastric banding procedure. A vast majority of the complications will occur following the gastric banding surgery.

Many patients may experience some complication in the first weeks or months following the surgery. The complications following the surgery may not be serious, and usually range from mild to severe complications. Generally the gastric banding surgery carries less risks and complications than other forms of weight loss surgery.

The risk of complications may increase if a patient has heart disease or diabetes, which is common with obesity. The possible complications should be discussed thoroughly with the doctor.

Many patients may find that it is the safest weight loss procedure, and that the risks are not great enough to deter them from having the surgery.

Prospective candidates for the lap banding procedure should meet the psychological requirements. The potential patients will be evaluated by the surgeon, and by a psychologist before the gastric banding procedure. Candidates should be mentally stable with realistic expectations of their surgery.

The suitable candidates should also be able to handle losing weight, and should be willing to put in the effort to effectively slim down.

Patients that are not willing to conform to the diet and exercise instructions may also achieve less desirable results.

The procedure is not right for every obese person, but it is very effective for the proper candidates. Obesity is a serious problem, and gastric banding is one most effective ways of treating the common condition.

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Updated: July 1, 2013 — 5:26 pm

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