What is gastric banding?
A gastric band is medical device made out of medical grade silicon (this material chosen for being medically safe, pliable and comfortable when placed within the body) which is fitted around the stomach.
The band is adjustable and is fitted using laparascopic surgical techniques, hence its alternative name – a laparoscopic adjustable gastric band. It can also be referred to as lap band surgery, gastric band surgery, or simply as gastric banding - these all refer to the same procedure.
How does gastric banding work?
Once the band is fitted around the stomach, it slows down the rate at which food can be 'processed' by the stomach, which limits the amount of food that can be eaten at one sitting.
Once someone has been fitted with a gastric band it takes longer for them to feel hungry after eating, and they feel as if they have eaten enough after consuming a smaller quantity of food than normal. Over a period of time this results in a substantial reduction in food intake, which leads to gradual weight loss.
It differs from other weight loss procedures in that...
- The band can be adjusted if required.
- The band can be removed once weight loss has been achieved and maintained for an adequate period.
Gastric banding should not be confused with the similarly named gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy), which is a completely different procedure.
How successful is gastric banding?
All statistical indicators show that gastric banding is generally a successful method of losing excess weight - an average person will lose over half their weight excess (56%) and in addition is able to maintain that weight loss over a minimum three-year period after fitting the band.
However, best results are obtained where the patient follows an overarching weight loss program which incorporates the gastric banding - for many people this involves a very different approach to food consumption and following some simple guidelines every day, such as chewing food for longer before swallowing and generally taking longer to have a meal.
How should I prepare for the procedure?
Being an active smoker greatly increases the risk of poor wound healing and breakdown of wounds after the procedure. For this reason, we recommend you give up smoking entirely. Dr Silverman will only treat a non-smoking patient.
If you are taking an anti-inflammatory medication or Warfarin, Aspirin of Plavix you must stop taking these one week before the procedure. Please contact Dr Silverman if you have any questions relating to your current medication.
You will receive any further specific instructions on how to prepare for your procedure from Dr Silverman well ahead of the date of the procedure.
What is involved in the procedure?
The procedure generally takes around an hour and is conducted under general anaesthesia.
The gastric band is fitted using laparoscopic surgery, which involves the surgeon making a number of small incisions to the abdomen and inserting a camera and special instruments to manoeuvre the band into place around the stomach. Once it is correctly placed, it is fixed using stitches to ensure it stays in position.
Most patients are able to get up and move around and drink liquids within 2-3 hours of coming out of surgery.
An overnight stay in hospital after the procedure is standard.
Returning to normal activities
Within a few days patients can resume normal day-to-day activity, although strenuous physical activity should be avoided for a little longer (Dr Silverman will be able to advise you on this). Patients are generally able to return to work around a week after surgery.
Risks / Complications
There are risks associated with all surgical procedures, such as wound infection, and risks relating to anaesthesia and bleeding during the procedure.
The risks / complications specific to gastric banding after the procedure include:
- Slipping of the gastric band (occurs in around 5% of cases).
- Band erosion (occurs in around 1% of cases) - where the band passes through the stomach wall.
- Band leakage (rare).
- Band infection (rare).
- Expansion of stomach pouch (relatively rare).
- Expansion of the oesophagus (realtively rare).
- Hiatus hernia development.
Dr Silverman offers consultations to people considering weight loss surgery and gastric banding, where she is able to explain the benefits and risks and enable you to determine if it is a suitable procedure for you.