The gastric band surgery is a safe, effective weight loss solution with fewer complications than with stomach stapling or Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RNY) surgery. The gastric bypass involves cutting, bypassing or rearrangement of the digestive tract, which is difficult to reverse.
The Gastric Band surgery, also called lap band surgery, requires no stapling or cutting of the stomach, so there’s no staple line to increase the chances for complications and it allows us to easily adjust the amount of food a patient can eat without the need for further surgery. The gastric bypass procedure cannot be adjusted, even in cases where additional nutrition is required such as during pregnancy or severe illness.
The Gastric Band surgery is performed laparoscopically (with a camera) at our Chattanooga Tennessee practice which serves patients from Atlanta and Knoxville. Our surgeon uses several small incisions rather than one large incision. The gastric band procedure is considered the least traumatic of all the operations for severe obesity.
The gastric band avoids irreversible damage to the stomach and bowel anatomy, and if for any reason it needs to be removed, the stomach generally returns to its original form. The gastric bypass involves permanent cutting, bypassing or rearrangement of the digestive tract, which is tremendously difficult, risky and almost impossible to reverse.
What are the advantages?
- Weight loss ranges from 40% to 60% of excess body weight in the first 2 years.
- It is the least invasive of all the weight loss surgeries available. Since there is no cutting or re-connecting of stomach or intestines, there is no risk of intestinal leak, dumping or food intolerance.
- Patients who have the gastric band appropriately placed and adjusted do not feel hungry. This appears to be due to the stretching of the uppermost part of the stomach.
- There is no malabsorption of medication or protein. This is particularly important in young women who want to get pregnant. There are no vitamin deficiencies.
- The majority of existing co-morbidities are improved, or even cured.
- Since the band is an implantable device, it can be reversed just by taking it out.
- The surgery takes approximately 1 hour to perform and has a reduced hospital stay. Patients normally leave the hospital the same day after surgery. You can be back at work in 3-5 days.
- It is adjustable. This does not require more surgery, but instead, a 10 minute visit to your surgeon’s office. As you lose weight, you will need the band tightened, therefore you must be committed to see your surgeon frequently during the first 1-3 years. In certain circumstances, you will need to eat more (ie. pregnancy, illness) so the band can be loosened.
- No “Dumping Syndrome” related to the reconfiguration of the digestive tract.
- Quicker Recovery: After the laparoscopic procedure, patients usually resume normal activities within 3-5 days, if there are no complications.
What are the considerations?
- You must re-learn how to eat. If you eat too fast, too much or don’t chew your food enough, you will vomit. Some foods may not pass through the band such as steak or bread.
- Success of weight loss with the gastric band is 80% dependent on your commitment to follow-up with your surgeon every 6-8 weeks for at least the first year. Close monitoring of weight, eating habits and various symptoms will determine whether you need an adjustment of your band. This is the only way to ensure significant long-term weight loss. If you do not follow-up with your surgeon, you will not lose weight.
- Because the gastric band is an implantable device, it does carry the risk of slippage (causing complete blockage of the gastric pouch) or erosion into the stomach (causing weight loss to stop). In either of these cases, another laparoscopic surgery would be required to either re-position the band if it has slipped, or remove the band if it has eroded. This occurs rarely, but is a possibility.
- The gastric band is not a perfect solution and will not result in weight loss if you start eating an excess of chocolate or high-calorie drinks (such as ice cream, milkshakes and soda).
- Although rare, there can be technical problems with the tube kinking or leaking, or the reservoir twisting. This may require a minor operation to correct.
Results with the Band
If the band is in the right position and you are committed to your new lifestyle and eating habits, you may lose more 40 – 50% of your excess weight. It is important that you lose weight gradually over a period of 12 to 24 months or more. Rapid weight loss represents a health risk and can be associated with a variety of problems, of which nausea and vomiting are only the most minor examples. We expect a weight loss of 1-3 pounds a week in the first year after the operation. Remember that your primary goal is to achieve a weight loss that prevents, improves or resolves health problems associated with obesity or morbid obesity.
Recovery with the band
Having a gastric band surgery generally means 0 or 1 night’s stay in the hospital. There is no nasogastric tube, and you are able to return to work, resume heavy lifting and strenuous activity, in most cases, in about two weeks from the time of surgery. If you are able to do light duty at work, or do not have a physically strenuous job, there is the possibility of going back to work sooner.
Learn more about post-surgical gastric band nutritional guidelines.
Thank you for considering CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care. We are committed not only to a successful procedure – including gastric sleeve, gastric band, gastric bypass and revisions – but also in an aftercare program that gives you the best chance for success.