gastric banding surgery information and guide

Table of Contents

Gastric banding surgery, also known as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, is a type of bariatric surgery that is used to help people with severe obesity lose weight. Here is a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know about gastric banding surgery.

What is Gastric Banding Surgery?

Gastric banding surgery is a restrictive bariatric procedure that reduces the size of the stomach using an adjustable gastric band to limit food intake. The band is placed around the upper part of the stomach during laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, creating a small stomach pouch above the band. The band has an access port that allows the surgeon to tighten or loosen it after surgery to change the size of the stomach opening. This helps you feel full faster and eat less overall.

gastric band surgery graphic

How Does Gastric Banding Work?

The adjustable gastric band works by:

  • Reducing stomach capacity: The band partitions the stomach into a small upper pouch that fills up quickly even with minor food quantities, making you feel satisfied earlier.

  • Putting a brake on digestion: Food takes a scenic, slow route from the small upper stomach pouch into the more spacious lower part of the stomach. This scenic route fosters a feeling of satiety and satisfaction even with smaller meal portions.

  • Tweaking your hormones: Gastric banding surgery boosts neurohormonal signals that regulate your appetite and fullness, empowering you to control your hunger and reduce calorie intake.

What are the Benefits of Gastric Banding?

benefits of gastric banding surgery

Some key benefits of gastric banding surgery include:

  • Effective long-term weight loss: Patients can lose 50-60% of their excess body weight over 1-2 years. Studies show the average excess weight loss is around 47% after 10 years.
  • Improves obesity-related conditions: Significant weight loss improves conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis.
  • Less invasive procedure: It is laparoscopic keyhole surgery with usually a short hospital stay and recovery time compared to other surgeries.
  • Adjustable device: The band can be tightened or loosened to find the optimal level of restriction for ongoing weight loss.
  • Reversible: The band can be removed if needed, restoring normal stomach anatomy.

Who is a Candidate for Gastric Banding?

Gastric banding may be an option for patients who:

  • Have a BMI of 40 or higher, indicating severe obesity.

  • Have a BMI of 35-39.9 alongside an obesity-related condition like diabetes or sleep apnea—this indicates morbid obesity.

  • Have tried and failed to achieve sustained weight loss through lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.

  • Do not have medical conditions like severe heart or lung disease that would make surgery too risky.

  • Are ready to make major diet and lifestyle changes.

  • Do not have problems with gut motility, acid reflux, or swallowing.

  • Do not have a dependency on alcohol or drugs.

How is the Surgery Performed?

gastric band surgery

Gastric banding is laparoscopic surgery typically done under general anesthesia. The steps include:

  1. The surgeon makes small incisions in your abdomen. Through these portals, the laparoscope (a camera) and surgical instruments are inserted.

  2. The adjustable band is positioned around the upper part of your stomach.

  3. An access port is put under the skin on your abdomen, enabling the band to be tightened or loosened later.

  4. Tubing connects the gastric band to the access port.

  5. The incisions are then closed with sutures or surgical glue.

The surgery usually wraps up in 1-2 hours. Post-op, patients typically stay in the hospital for 1-2 days. Full recovery takes about 4-6 weeks.

What is the Post-Op Diet and Follow-Up Care?

gastric band post op diet

Recovery from gastric banding unfolds over several stages:

  • Gradually progressing from clear liquids to puréed foods over a period of 6-8 weeks, known as the bariatric foods diet.

  • Steering clear of chewing gum, bread, rice, pasta, and tough meats that can clog the opening.

  • Taking vitamins and supplements as directed by your surgeon.

  • Visiting your surgeon for band adjustments to find your ideal level of restriction. This usually begins 4-6 weeks post-surgery.

  • Regular check-ins with your doctor every 3-6 months for the first 1-2 years for follow-up care and nutritional monitoring. This long-term follow-up continues indefinitely.

  • Regular exercise and participation in support groups or counseling to facilitate lifestyle changes and maximize your results.

Potential Risks of Gastric Banding Surgery

potential risks of gastric band surgery

Just like every major surgery, gastric banding surgery isn't without its risks. Potential risks you may encounter include:

  • Infection at the incision sites or around the band. Signs include fever, swelling, redness, fluid leakage, and stomach pain. If this happens, antibiotics are your go-to.

  • Blood clots in the legs or lungs. Blood thinners and getting back on your feet early after surgery can help mitigate this risk.

  • Pneumonia due to anesthesia's effect on the lungs. Using an incentive spirometer can help keep your lungs clear.

  • Injury to the stomach, esophagus, or surrounding organs during surgery. While this is rare, having an experienced bariatric surgeon on board significantly reduces this risk.

  • Heart problems like arrhythmia, heart attack, or stroke. To reduce heart strain during surgery, certain precautions are taken.

  • Gallstones, which can form due to rapid weight loss. Your doctor might prescribe medication to prevent these stones.

  • Excess skin after significant weight loss. This can be addressed through exercise and skin removal surgery.

Screening with due diligence, selecting an experienced surgeon, and proper aftercare can greatly minimize these risks. It is important to note that patients also need to commit to major diet and lifestyle changes for optimal

Results and Outlook After Gastric Banding Surgery

successful gastric banding patient

With commitment to diet and exercise, gastric banding can pave the way for substantial weight loss. On average, patients drop 50-60% of their excess weight over a span of 1-2 years. Impressively, many manage to maintain at least 50% of weight loss in the long haul.

Such a degree of weight loss can lead to complete or partial remission of type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and other obesity-related diseases. Following the surgery, patients often report improved mobility, increased self-confidence, and an overall enhancement in the quality of life.

However, gastric banding does necessitate strict dietary modifications and follow-up care. For severely obese patients who are ready to commit to making major lifestyle changes, gastric banding can be an effective weight loss option with promising long-term results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the gastric band surgery take?

The surgery takes 1-2 hours typically. The hospital stay is usually 1-2 days.

What is recovery like after gastric band surgery?

You'll be in the hospital for 1-2 days. Pain and fatigue are common for a week. You can usually return to light work in 1-2 weeks. Full recovery takes 4-6 weeks.

When can you start eating normally after gastric band surgery?

You'll be on a liquid diet for 1-2 weeks, progressing gradually to soft foods. It takes 6-8 weeks to transition back to regular foods in small portions.

How are gastric band adjustments done?

Gastric band adjustments are done by inserting a needle into the access port. No anesthesia is required. The band can be tightened or loosened this way in the doctor's office.

How much weight will I lose after gastric banding?

Weight loss results vary, but patients can expect to lose 50-60% of excess weight over 1-2 years. Many maintain at least 50% loss long-term.

Can the gastric band be removed?

Yes, the gastric band is removable through laparoscopic surgery if needed or desired. When the band is removed, your stomach generally returns to its original form.

Can gastric band surgery be reversed?

The surgery itself cannot be reversed. However, the gastric band is adjustable and removable, so the effects can be undone if needed.

What happens if I get pregnant after gastric band surgery?

The band may need to be loosened or removed during pregnancy as the stomach expands. Nutrition for mom and baby needs close monitoring.

Will I need plastic surgery for excess skin after gastric band surgery?

It depends on your weight loss results. Exercise can firm and tighten skin. For major skin excess, plastic surgery is an option.

When can I start exercising after gastric band surgery?

Light walking can begin within days. More strenuous exercise usually can start after about 4-6 weeks of recovery time. Check with your doctor.

Author: Joey Young

Joey is a writer and researcher with a big passion for health. As a dad to five kids and three dogs, he knows first-hand the importance of a healthy lifestyle. His work is all about sharing useful health advice and insights with readers from all walks of life.

Reviewed By: Dr. K. Huffman

Dr. Kevin D. Huffman, D.O., is a board-certified bariatric physician with a distinguished reputation in obesity treatment. As the founder of American Bariatric Consultants, he has impacted over 10,000 patients and trained numerous healthcare providers. His protocols and training materials have made him a national leader in bariatric medicine.