What is surgical adjustable gastric banding?

Adjustable gastric banding, also known as gastric banding, is a laparoscopic surgical procedure that shrinks the size of the stomach to help obese patients lose weight. The goal of the surgery is to make the stomach smaller so it can’t hold as much food. Patients who have adjustable gastric banding feel full more quickly, eat less and lose weight.

Some patients and doctors call this procedure by the name of the product, such as Lap-Band System.

How is surgical adjustable gastric banding performed?

A surgeon will cut into the belly using several small incisions. Using small surgical instruments and a camera, your surgeon will wrap a ring around the stomach to make it smaller. After you recover from surgery, your surgeon will inflate the ring to close off a large portion of the stomach, which will aid in the weight loss process. This typically occurs four to six weeks after surgery.

Who is a candidate for adjustable gastric banding?

Patients who have a BMI over 40 or a BMI over 35 with a severe medical condition and have not been successful in losing weight with less invasive treatments may be candidates for gastric banding. Your doctor will evaluate your condition to determine if this is an appropriate treatment for your case.

Surgery is most successful when it is used as a part of a long-term healthy lifestyle.

Benefits of adjustable gastric banding?

Gastric banding is the least invasive bariatric surgery. Patients will begin to lose weight gradually after the procedure. Weight loss can continue as long as three years after surgery.

Research has shown that obese patients who are able to lose weight are less likely to pass away early from heart disease, cancer and other chronic conditions than those who were not able to lose weight.

Risks associated with adjustable gastric banding?

As with any invasive surgery, there are risks associated with gastric banding surgery such as infections, bleeding, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

Risks specific to gastric banding include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies — you can suffer from nutritional deficiencies because you are not eating as much
  • Obstruction — food can get blocked between the upper and lower parts of the stomach
  • Band slippage — if the band slips out of place, it can cause pain or heartburn
  • Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD) — acid can enter the esophagus causing symptoms

Recovery from adjustable gastric banding

Recovery from adjustable gastric banding is a long process. Recovery involves the healing process directly after surgery, but also the long-term lifestyle changes that will help you maintain weight loss over your life span.

Immediately after surgery, you will need one to three weeks of rest to allow your surgery site to heal. Pain medication may be necessary to relieve pain associated with the surgery. Although you should not start an exercise program until your doctor has cleared you, walking around will help keep your blood flowing to avoid developing blood clots in the legs.

Most patients can return to work after a week unless you have a strenuous job.

For the first week after surgery, you will be restricted to a liquid diet. For the next two to four weeks, you will need to eat soft, pureed foods. Solid foods are not advised until six weeks after surgery. During the initial period, you will still feel hungry until your new normal is established. You will not be able to eat many of the same foods as you did before your surgery. You may need to consult with a dietician to determine if you are getting the nutrients you need in your diet or if you need to supplement.

Many patients struggle emotionally during the recovery period. Support groups with other patients recovering from weight loss surgery may provide comfort and support during this period.

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