Losing weight is a daunting task. This becomes all the more difficult for obese people. In many cases, the patient may be advised to undergo bariatric surgery. There are many types of bariatric surgery. Some surgeries address both the stomach and the small intestines while others address only the stomach. A gastric band surgery is one such procedure.
For this procedure, an adjustable band is placed around the upper half of the stomach. This creates a small pouch that can hold a limited amount of food. The band is connected through a plastic tube to a small device placed under the abdominal skin. Sterile fluid may be injected or removed from the band through this device. By injecting saline, the band is made tighter and by removing the liquid the band is loosened. This allows the band to be customized to improve weight loss.
The result of a gastric band surgery may vary from person to person. Band adjustment starts after the third week of surgery. Because the size of the stomach is reduced, the person will feel full faster and hence eat less. In most cases, a person can expect to lose 60 to 75 % of their excess body weight. This should not be confused with a person’s total weight. The procedure can be reversed at a later date if need be.
Some people may develop side effects like nausea and vomiting after the procedure. But why this procedure has not gained acceptance compared to other bariatric procedures like gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy is because, the compliance with the band is not very good and complications like band erosion, band slippage, band migration are very high. Another dreaded complication following the band surgery in non-compliant patients who eat large quantities and overstretch the small gastric pouch above the band is severe GERD.
In severe cases, rarely, grains of undigested food is seen in the mouth on waking up in the morning. This could be life-threatening. Vitamin deficiencies are rare provided supplements are taken regularly during the weight loss period.
Gradual band adjustment is required and regular follow up with the bariatric surgeon will yield good results. Over adjustment is not good at all and could lead to higher chances of complications like band erosion. However, proper dietary compliance can make the results of a band better. Ideally, a patient should get follow up checks every month after such a surgery.
All said and done, the percentage of excess weight loss in the gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are far superior to the adjustable gastric banding. Even the compliance, and maintenance of weight loss over years is better in the other bariatric procedures compared to the band.