Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Losing Weight with Band Gastric Surgery

Considered a drastic solution to weight loss, band gastric surgery is a restrictive or bariatric surgery performed on obese persons. The objective is to reduce stomach size which is accomplished using an implanted medical device called a gastric band placed around the top section of the stomach in a laparoscopic procedure. The more precise medical term for the procedure is Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding.

Weight Loss Benefits

Gastric banding has been clinically shown and proven to lose about 40% of unwanted weight.  That’s because the smaller stomach resulting from the surgery makes you feel full faster every meal and thus, decreases your food cravings and consumption. Obese people who are 200 pounds overweight can expect to lose about 80 pounds on average after gastric banding, though results can vary widely. The procedure is considered the safest and least invasive among weight loss surgery options.  Gastric banding can be reversed once the patient achieves the correct BMI if he or she so desires. 

How it Works

The gastric band placed around the stomach is a silicone device that can be inflated with 4 to 12cc of saline solution. Once inflated, it constricts the stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch at the top section, decreases the size of the passage between this pouch and the lower stomach and slows food passage between the two. Once food is digested in the upper stomach pouch, no further digestion takes place in the lower stomach and the digested simply passes to the intestines.

The resulting smaller stomach pouch holds about ½ to 1 cup of food while the entire stomach could hold 6 cups. Once the pouch is full which happens faster, the brain receives a message that the stomach is full, even though only a part of it is. The sensation makes you feel less hungry, eat smaller portions, feel full faster and lose weight over a shorter period of time.

How it is Done

Band gastric surgery is not an open abdominal surgery and generally undergoes the following procedure:

  • Through a ½ inch incision near the belly button, a small laparoscopic camera is inserted to show the stomach cavity in a monitor screen as a visual guide in the process.
  • Using laparoscopic tools, another incision is made through which the surgeon makes a small tunnel behind the stomach to allow an adjustable silicone band to wrap and lock around the upper stomach section.
  • The band divides the stomach where the upper part becomes a pouch serving as the “new” stomach with about an inch-wide gullet constricted by the band leading to the lower stomach.
  • A plastic tube from the silicone gastric band runs through the skin so that saline can be injected to tighten, or removed to loosen the band.

Several visits are made to the doctor to adjust the band with the injection or suction of saline solution to achieve optimal constriction. The band is tightened or loosened so that hunger is best controlled but not too tight for digested food not to flow freely.

Minor Complications

The procedure has a low complication rate with the most common involving nausea and vomiting which can be dealt with by adjusting the band tightness. As with any surgery, band gastric surgery carries a 10% risk of wound infections and minor bleeding which can be treated with antibiotics.


If you are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, undergoing the procedure is considered the fastest and most effective weight loss solution.  In February 2011, the FDA lowered the BMI threshold to 30, opening the option even to those with moderate obesity. If you have been going through diet and exercise regimens for years with little or no success, a band gastric surgery can be your last resort.

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