The gastric band is a surgical procedure designed to help patients who suffer from obesity and morbid obesity lose weight quickly and easily. During the surgery, a band made out of biomaterials is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch and reducing the capacity of the organ. The band is filled with a saline solution and the physician adjust it with more or less saline to inflate or deflate the entrance of the stomach.

By reducing the stomach’s size and capacity, the surgery enhances weight loss. Patients feel full faster and with smaller amounts of food, which, combined with an healthy diet and exercise, helps patients struggling with overweight. There are numerous surgical methods to lose weight and a series of researchers focused their studies on the safety and effectiveness of surgeries such as gastric banding.

Safety of the Gastric Band

There are a series of risks and potential complications associated with gastric band surgery. However, a growing body of research has revealed the safeness of the procedure. One of this studies is titled “Effectiveness and Safety of Sleeve Gastrectomy, Gastric Bypass, and Adjustable Gastric Banding in Morbidly Obese Patients: a Multicenter, Retrospective, Matched Cohort Study,” which was published on July 2015 and compares three different surgical methods.

According to the investigators, despite being a safe procedure, gastric band surgery is slightly less effective in weight loss to sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. Data from other studies revealed that patients are able to lose on average 40 to 50% of their excess weight, while cases of death are verified in less than one in 3,000 patients. Nausea, vomiting, infections, band erosion or displacement are side effects that affect about 10% the patients.

The study “Hospital volume and outcomes for laparoscopic gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding in the modern era” revealed the tendency in hospital stays and recurrence due to the weight loss surgical procedures. According to the researchers, over the past decade there has been a rapid decline in adverse events after gastric band surgery, but there are still differences in serious complications between the highest and lowest volume hospitals for both stapled and nonstapled procedures.

Gastric Band Efficacy

Regarding efficacy, gastric band surgery has been proven effective in helping patients lose weight, as demonstrated in the study “Laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy significantly improves short term weight loss as compared to laparoscopic adjustable gastric band placement in morbidly obese adolescent patients.” However, the researchers believe that vertical sleeve gastrectomy has more effective results in short term weight than gastric band surgery. The trade-off, however, is that sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure that permanently removes 90% of the stomach, reshaping it into a narrow sleeve.

The study “The Gastric Band That Is Not to Be: Efficacy, Safety and Performance of the Easyband™: a Multicenter Experience” is focused on one of the types of gastric band, the Easyband that does not require a gastric band port to provide access to the band adjustment and is one of the most recent innovations in the procedure. The research revealed that the excess weight loss is comparable with other gastric banding devices, but there are a series of advancements to be made that can increase patients’ safety.

In addition, the effects of the surgery have also been studied in patients who are not morbidly obese and published in the study “Gastric band is safe and effective at three years in a national study subgroup of non-morbidly obese patients.” The retrospective analysis of a subgroup of patients with Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 35 kg/m2, some following a prior bariatric procedure, demonstrated that the procedure was both safe and effective at 3-year follow-up.

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