Gastric Banding Surgery
(Lap-Band® and Realize® Band)
Gastric banding is a major weight loss surgical procedure in the United States and worldwide. Often called by one of its trade names, Lap-Band® or Realize® Band, it is the least invasive of the major weight loss procedures because it does not require the cutting or rerouting of the stomach or small intestine. Gastric banding is a purely restrictive procedure, limiting the amount of food that a patient can consume in any given sitting. The gastric band is also unique in that it is the only procedure that can be adjusted – it is also removable.
How it Works:
Gastric banding is performed in a minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, manner. This often means less pain and blood loss and a shorter hospital stay than traditional open surgery. Several tiny incisions are made in the abdomen to give the surgeon access to the abdominal cavity using specially made medical devices. These include a high resolution camera, called a laparoscope, with which the surgeon can view the surgical field.
During the gastric banding procedure, a small silicone ring is placed around the upper part of the stomach. It is connected to an injection port placed just underneath the skin, attached to the abdominal wall. The two components are connected by soft thin tubing. The entire system is made from bio-compatible material, to virtually eliminate the possibility of an allergic reaction to the implant.
Several weeks after surgery, once the patient has recovered from the procedure, the surgeon will introduce saline through the injection port and into the band to tighten it. As the band tightens, it creates two separate but interconnected stomach chambers. A smaller chamber, above the band becomes the primary receptacle for food and the rest of the gastric pouch below, continues to digest food normally. The smaller size of the upper stomach chamber will provide the restriction necessary to potentially make the patient feel full sooner and stay full longer. However the band does not effect or reduce hunger at all like the sleeve or bypass.
Band adjustments will be necessary every couple months for about a year after surgery. These adjustments usually require 15 minutes of in-office time and are virtually painless. The purpose of these follow-up appointments is to ensure the proper tightness of the band.
Results will vary between patients. Most patients will experience excellent and measured weight loss to the tune of 1-2 pounds per week. With proper diet and exercise, a gastric banding patient may lose a great deal of excess weight and improve or resolve many of the obesity related diseases from which they suffered. Overall weight loss potential is somewhat lower than both the bypass and the sleeve.
Advantages of the Gastric Band
- Patients will eat less and feel fuller sooner
- The procedure is adjustable
- The band can be removed in times of need
- Is performed in a minimally invasive manner (less pain, shorter hospital stay)
- Does not require any stapling, cutting or rerouting of the stomach or small intestine
- Low risk of nutritional deficiencies
Risks and Considerations of the Gastric Band
- Lower potential weight loss
- Requires an implant in the abdomen
- Follow-up is more frequent than other procedures
- Patients must follow a strict diet and exercise regimen to be successful
- Typical risks of any surgical procedure