Gastric band surgery is a medical procedure that is done to aid in the weight loss of an obese patient. A silicone band is wrapped around the top portion of the stomach to create a pouch that only holds a small amount of food. When this pouch is full, the patient will feel satisfied and stop eating. This is a minimally invasive surgery in which the remainder of the stomach and intestines are left in tact.
To qualify for gastric band surgery, the patient must have previously tried other ways of losing weight. Most patients who undergo this surgery are 100 pounds (about 45 kg) or more over their ideal weight. After the surgery, patients should lose about one to two pounds a week but the results can vary. To be successful, patients must be willing to follow a diet and an exercise program in order to keep the weight off.
Gastric band surgery is done as a laparoscopic procedure and is also referred to as lap band surgery. During the surgery, which takes about an hour, the patient will be under general anesthesia. The surgeon will insert a camera and surgical tools through incisions in the patient’s abdomen. A tunnel is then created under the top of the stomach and the gastric band is inserted and wrapped around the top portion of the stomach. The band is closed to create a loop and it is then sutured in place to keep it from sliding up or down.
The side of the gastric band that touches the stomach has small pillows that are usually left empty at surgery, but are later filled with saline. During the surgery, a fill tube attached to the band is sutured under the skin of the patient’s abdomen. After the stomach heals, a syringe is used to inject saline into the tube and fill the gastric band. Filling allows the surgeon to change the size of the opening of the stomach based on the patient’s comfort level and weight loss.
Side effects from the gastric band surgery may include pain, nausea, or vomiting. A liquid diet is recommended for the first two weeks following surgery to allow the stomach to heal. The patient may then need to eat soft or pureed foods for another few weeks. As the patient adjusts to eating small amounts of food throughout the day, a steady loss of weight should begin to occur.