When it comes to managing obesity and excess weight, most people stick with dieting and exercise regimes. But for some people, this isn’t enough. Your doctor may determine that you are a candidate for weight loss surgery, which can help you lose weight more quickly than diet and exercise alone.
There are several common options for weight loss surgeries, including Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, vertical banded gastroplasty, and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB, also called lap band). Gastric bypass is perhaps the most well-known of these procedures, but it is also one of the riskiest, as it involves major surgery and it is not reversible.
A gastric band, on the other hand, is a reversible procedure. It’s also quick, minimally invasive, and adjustable. Here is more information on the benefits of gastric band procedures and how the process works.
How Can It Help with Weight Loss?
Bariatric surgeries are a type of procedure designed to help with weight loss, primarily by reducing the size of the stomach. With a smaller stomach, patients feel full faster, have less appetite, and eat less overall.
Introduced around 1993, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is a type of bariatric procedure in which a surgeon makes small cuts in the belly (using laparoscopy) to insert an adjustable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach. The stomach is squeezed by the silicone band, reducing its size. No internal incisions or cuts are made.
After the procedure, the stomach is reduced to a small pouch with only about an inch-wide outlet, able to hold only around one ounce of food. The band is connected to a device just beneath the skin by a plastic tube, which allows for saline to be injected into or removed from the band. In this way, the tightness of the band can be adjusted to reduce any side effects or to help improve the patient’s weight loss.
When the band is placed correctly, it exerts pressure on nerve endings that contribute to the patient feeling full. Throughout the day, this pressure sends satiety signals to the hypothalamus, helping the patient to feel full for longer periods. Similarly, when eating, the body receives signals of satiety sooner. This encourages the patient to eat smaller amounts of food and still feel satisfied and full.
After the Procedure
As with any bariatric procedure designed to help with weight loss, patients with a gastric band must also commit to major lifestyle changes in order to experience the best results.
Patients should follow a mindful and healthy diet, avoid mixing solid and liquid foods at meals, and be sure to eat slowly, thoroughly chewing their food. Adding in a regular exercise program is also recommended to ensure the best results of a gastric band procedure. A follow-up program where the patient receives nutritional counseling and weight monitoring is also vital.
Following these long-term recommendations will help the patient achieve better results over time, keep the weight off, and improve their odds of success with the procedure.
Benefits of Gastric Band
Unlike the gastric bypass procedure, gastric banding is reversible and adjustable, and it is widely considered to be one of the safest bariatric procedures. In many cases, it can be performed as an outpatient procedure, where the patient can return home the same day. There is no cutting or reconfiguring of the stomach or intestines. For this reason, gastric banding is also the least expensive bariatric procedure option.
Because the band does not interfere with the absorption of food, most patients do not experience vitamin deficiencies after the procedure and do not need to take nutritional supplements.
Though every surgery has inherent risks, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding is generally free of major risks and complications. For most patients, the side effects of gastric banding are minimal and usually include some minor risks of surgical complications (bleeding, infection, etc.), which occur in less than 10% of patients, and nausea or vomiting, which can usually be reduced by adjusting the band. Most patients with a gastric band can expect to lose between 40 to 60% of their excess weight.
Weight loss with a gastric band is often more gradual than with other types of bariatric surgeries, but patients will still experience the health benefits that losing weight can bring.
Losing excess weight makes everyday activities easier and improves your overall health and sense of well-being. Patients may also note improvements in other conditions, including sleep apnea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and even type 2 diabetes. Psychologically, weight loss can help improve self-esteem and reduce symptoms of depression.
Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding may require some long-term maintenance. The surgeon may need to adjust the placement of the band, or replace certain components of the band over time. In most cases, adjusting a gastric band does not require surgery, just a relatively quick visit to the surgeon’s office. If the patient wants the band removed, this only requires another outpatient procedure.
Given its safety, adjustability, and effectiveness, the gastric band is the weight loss solution of choice for more than a million people around the world.