Adjustable gastric banding is a restrictive type of weight loss surgery. In a nutshell, it involves placing a silicone band with an inflatable inner collar around the upper stomach to restrict food intake. This creates a small pouch and a narrow passage to the lower stomach. This small passage delays the emptying of food from the pouch and causes a feeling of fullness. The silicone band can be tightened or loosened over time to change the size of the passage.
Other terms for adjustable gastric banding are laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and gastric banding. Brand names of gastric banding devices include the Realize Band and the Lap-Band System.
The silicone band is connected to a small port that is placed in the abdominal wall. The inner diameter of the band can be adjusted by injecting saline through this port. This is called a fill. Your surgeon can make periodic adjustments or fills based on your weight loss, food cravings and other physical reactions to the surgery.
Adjustable gastric banding is usually performed laparoscopically, meaning that the surgeon makes small incisions as opposed to one large incision. To perform the gastric banding, he or she inserts a viewing tube with a small camera (laparoscope) and other tiny instruments into these small incisions.
Currently two types of gastric bands are on the market in the United States: the Lap-Band System and the newer Realize Band.
Gastric banding surgery takes about one to one and a half hours. It can be done on an outpatient basis or may require a one-day hospital stay.
More than 550,000 people have undergone adjustable gastric banding with the Lap-Band System, and more than 100,000 have done so with the Realize Band, according to the manufacturers' websites.
The requirements for adjustable gastric banding are the same as for other weight loss surgeries. For example, COC requires a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40. This is the equivalent of being about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women. BMI takes height and weight into account to measure body fatness, and a BMI of 30 or above in adults is considered obese.
People with BMIs between 30 and 40 may also be candidates for gastric banding with Lap Band if they have obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The Realize Band is approved for use in people with a BMI between 35 and 40 and at least one obesity-related condition.
Gastric banding may be an option also for people in whom the more invasive gastric bypass surgery is deemed too risky due to underlying health complications.
Regardless of the surgical method chosen, preparing for weight loss surgery starts with making a lifelong commitment to the dietary and lifestyle changes necessary for success. Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix, nor is it a decision to enter into lightly. Once you have made the decision together with your surgeon and your family members, the preoperative evaluations can begin. These include:
It's wise to tell your surgeon about any medications you are taking or plan to take throughout recovery. Vitamins, minerals and herbs also interact with medications. Don't leave anything out.
Some of your lifestyle changes will begin before surgery. They include:
After adjustable gastric banding, you must get used to eating solid foods again. The regimen typically starts with two weeks on a liquid-only-diet, two weeks of semi-solid pureed foods and then solids.
Many people say that until their first fill, they can still eat relatively normal portions of food. Some refer to this phenomenon as bandster hell, because they become convinced that the surgery was not a success.
The stomach needs to heal from surgery before the first fill. So the first adjustment won't occur until around six weeks after surgery. Gastric bands need to be adjusted an average of four to six times in the first year after surgery. These fills are done to make sure the band is not too tight or too loose and/or to encourage continued weight loss. Band adjustments are painless, and your surgeon can make them during a regular office visit.
The weight loss that occurs with adjustable gastric banding is more gradual then with some other weight loss surgeries. You may lose about five to 10 pounds a month and will likely lose two-thirds of your excess weight within two years of having the surgery.
After surgery you must be mindful about what you eat, how you eat and when you eat. This includes eating smaller meals, because the new stomach can hold only about a quarter-cup to a full cup of food at a time. Sometimes people who have undergone gastric banding can eat a lot, and sometimes they can't eat anything. It is important to "listen to the band" and not just try to eat the same amount each day.
It is also important to chew carefully and stop eating when you feel full, or nausea and vomiting can occur. Don't eat and drink at the same time, because this may increase the chance of discomfort and vomiting.
Individual experiences with food and eating after gastric banding surgery tend to vary. Some people report difficulty eating solid foods in the morning. It is important to pay attention to your body and how you feel when you eat different foods at different times. Talk to your surgeon or a registered dietician about any problems you experience, as he or she will be able to offer tips on how to tweak your diet and eating habits.