Gastric banding is a surgical weight loss procedure meant to reduce the size of the stomach in obese patients who have had difficulty in previous attempts at losing weight through non-surgical methods like diet, exercise, behavior modification, pre-packaged meal replacement plans or even pharmacotherapy. The implant used, which is composed of a thin silicone ring that can be filled with saline to adjust the degree by which the stomach is reduced, is often referred to as a “Lap Band,” which is the brand name of one of the implants. However, those interested in the gastric band procedure often want to first conduct research and see what other gastric band choices are on the market.

FDA-Approved Gastric Band Choices

When it comes to gastric band choices, there are currently two gastric banding devices approved by the FDA for losing weight. In order to be eligible to undergo the surgery and have a gastric band inserted, patients need to be older than 18 years and have either a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or have a BMI between 30 and 40 but also suffer from a medical condition associated with obesity, which include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic disease or sleep apnea.

  • Lap-Band Gastric Banding System

The Lap-Band System was approved by the FDA in 2011 to address adult obesity and it features a silicone band, tubing, and an access port. The system works by connecting the inflatable inner surface of the silicone band to the access port through a thin tube. By adjusting the amount of fluid in the band, physicians can limit food and caloric intake by increasing the contraction of the stomach. The Lap-Band has been tested and studied rigorously over the years by researchers, and the device has been shown to be effective in helping 80% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40 lose at least 30% of their excess weight and maintain it for at least a year.

Recent studies also revealed that the Lap-Band contributed to improved quality of life in obese patients, is safe for obese women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant in the future, and helps reduce type 2 diabetes through weight loss.

  • Realize Gastric Band

The Realize Band was approved in 2007 for the treatment of morbid obesity and it consists of a silicone band, tubing, and an injection port, similar to the Lap-Band. Not only does it limit the amount of food and caloric intake, but it also slows down digestion time. The reinforcing band offers structural support for the balloon and includes a mechanism that joins the two ends of the band, while the balloon contains up to 9 ml of saline to cover the entire stomach.

Gastric Band Choices: Which One is Better?

Patients considering gastric banding are advised to ask their doctors which gastric band choice is better for them, based on their health and weight loss needs. However, studies have shown that both devices offer very similar effectiveness and safety in terms of weight loss and patient health. In a 2014 study entitled “Adjustable gastric banding: a comparison of models,” researchers compared three different Lap-Band models to two Realize Gastric Band models. After comprehensive testing, researchers determined that “In terms of weight loss and co-morbidities, no differences were found supporting the choice of one model over the others. Short-term and long-term band-related complications occurred without any clear predilection.”

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