What is an Adjustable Gastric Band?

Mary Ellen Popolo
Mary Ellen Popolo
A adjustable gastric band is usually inserted using laparoscopic tools during surgery.
A adjustable gastric band is usually inserted using laparoscopic tools during surgery.

An adjustable gastric band is a silicone device similar to a rubber band, which is placed around the upper portion of the stomach to create a small pouch. Most often the band is inserted using laparoscopic tools via laparoscopic gastric band surgery. The band is adjustable and can be loosened or restricted as needed. Gastric band surgery is the second most common weight-loss surgical procedure, the most common being gastric bypass surgery.

During gastic band surgery, a surgeon places the band around the upper part of the stomach and tightens it to create a small pouch with an opening that measures about 1 inch (2.5 cm). After the band has been put in place, the stomach holds about 1/2 cup of food (125 ml) as opposed to the 6 cups (1500 ml) it held before. When food is eaten, the pouch quickly becomes full but food is slowly transferred to the stomach and proceeds through the rest of the digestive system. When the pouch becomes full, the patient has a feeling of being full. The full feeling lasts longer and the patient eats less, losing weight as a result.

Plastic tubing runs from the adjustable gastric band to a device that has been placed under the skin during the lap band surgery. The tubing is filled with saline which makes the band tighter. If needed, saline can be removed from the tubing to make it looser. Patients usually require several adjustments before the right balance of controlling hunger and allowing food to pass through the band is found. Additional adjustments need to be made as the patient loses weight.

Adjustable gastric bands are biocompatible which means that they can safely be placed inside the human body with little or no adverse reaction. Gastric banding surgery has a low complication and mortality rate. After surgery, some patients experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, wound infections, and minor bleeding.

Since an adjustable gastric band works without altering or removing any part of the digestive system, common weight-loss surgery side effects like nutritional deficiencies, malabsorption issues, and dumping syndrome are avoided. These symptoms are common in other types of weight loss surgery such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, biliopancreatic diversion, and duodenal switch surgeries. Gastric band surgery is considered the least invasive type of weight loss surgery. In addition, since there is no alteration of the stomach or digestive system, lap band surgery can be reversed at any time.

Candidates for adjustable gastric band surgery are required to have a body mass index over 40 or be at least 100 pounds (45 kilograms) overweight and be between 18 and 55 years old. Potential candidates must also have been overweight for a minimum of five years and been unsuccessful at losing weight through diet and exercise. In most circumstances, all criteria must be met to qualify.

Losing weight is the main reason for undergoing adjustable gastric band surgery. There are other benefits that go hand in hand with losing weight. Complications and diseases associated with obesity can improve with weight loss. Arthritis, sleep apnea, diabetes and high blood pressure are a few of the conditions that may improve also.

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    • A adjustable gastric band is usually inserted using laparoscopic tools during surgery.
      A adjustable gastric band is usually inserted using laparoscopic tools during surgery.