Gastric Banding

The Gastric Band Procedure

The gastric band is a bariatric surgery procedure which is performed laparoscopically (keyhole surgery) under general anaesthetic.

The gastric band is an inflatable device placed around the top portion of your stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch.  The pouch restricts the amount of food you are able to eat, helping you to feel full and stay full for longer. Ongoing adjustments are essential in achieving the correct level of restriction from the gastric band therefore you must be committed to attending regular follow up.

The gastric band results in gradual weight loss and regular visits back to your surgeon and dietitian will ensure that you achieve the best possible results. Typically people will lose 40% of their excess body weight in the first 12-18 months after surgery.

It must be noted that this surgery, along with any other bariatric procedure, is only ever a ‘tool’ to help you control your weight.  Weight loss success relies upon you optimising the use of your ‘tool’ and varies due to a number of factors such as age, starting weight, concurrent medical or psychiatric illnesses, ability to exercise, meal planning/routine as well as perseverance. It is virtually impossible to lose too much weight after a gastric band.  Most people get to the point where further weight loss comes at the cost of excessive effort and they therefore settle at the weight that suits them.

Band Adjustments

The adjustability of the gastric band is a significant advantage over other weight loss procedures, as it allows its effect to be personally customised to control hunger.  During your procedure, a small access port is placed deep underneath one of your abdominal scars.  This port is connected to the gastric band by thin, hollow tubing.  The port allows the size of your band to be adjusted with a high degree of precision using a needle filled with sterile saline.  Adjustments are performed in the clinic and only take a few minutes. Adjustments are scheduled frequently at first (fortnightly/monthly) and once your goal weight has been reached, further adjustments are needed much less often.

Advantages

  • It is a simple surgical procedure leading to a shorter hospital stay and recovery time
  • It is adjustable and can be removable
  • It can be converted to gastric sleeve or gastric bypass if needed
  • Unlike the sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass, the gastric band does not involve any use of metal surgical staples, amputation of any part of the stomach or resituation of the bowel.

Disadvantages

  • Regular adjustments and consultations with the dietitian and surgeon are essential for the first 12 months.
  • Complications such as a band slippage, infection, leakage and erosion could occur and require reoperation.
  • Reflux or heartburn.
  • Slow or general failure to lose weight.
  • You will need to eat slowly and chew thoroughly to avoid painful food bolus blockages.

Risks

The short term risks involved with a gastric banding procedure are similar to any other laparoscopic abdominal operation removal of gallbladder or hernia repair. Such risks include bleeding, accidental injury to internal organs, infection, anaesthetic or medication reactions and blood clots.  In our experience, the risk of a complication such as these during surgery is less than 1 in 500.  Other complications include the tolerance of a foreign object in the body, band infection and erosion, band malfunction causing a leak in the band or the port and port flip.  The gastric band is still considered major surgery and, like any surgery, death can occur. This is not a complete list of complications.  If you are concerned about anything specifically it would be best to address this with your surgeon during your individual consultation.

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