Gastric banding surgery is one of a series of several different weight loss surgical procedures. The surgery itself involves the insertion of a laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, which is a surgical device that consists of a thin, hollow silicone rubber ring accompanied by a small tube. The ring, when inserted into a small incision and fitted around the stomach, restricts the amount of food and caloric intake, allowing patients to feel fuller more quickly and consume fewer calories, aiding in weight loss. The tube includes a small port that is positioned just below the skin that can be used to fill the ring with saline and increase the amount of food and caloric restriction.

What Gastric Banding Surgery Involves

Prior to the surgery, patients are recommended to discuss all options with their physician, read the device’s patient labeling to become informed of the risks and benefits of the procedure and ask further questions to the surgeon. Once these steps are completed and both the physician and patient agree to insertion of the gastric band, it is usually placed through laparoscopic surgery.

The laparoscopic surgery takes only about an hour and is performed with the patient asleep under general anesthesia. Between one and five small incisions are made in the patient’s abdomen and the surgeon inserts a small camera and surgical instruments into the abdominal cavity in order to correctly place the adjustable silicone band. Patients are often sent home the same day after the procedure and are able to work few days later.

Following the Gastric Banding Procedure

Despite being a long-term implant, a gastric band is not a permanent device. In fact, patients may need additional procedures to reposition, replace or remove the gastric band. If a patient does not follow the physician’s recommendations on dietary lifestyle alterations, not only can weight loss be compromised, but a series of complications can also be experienced. Bariatric surgeons will underscore the important of patient compliance when it comes to using a gastric band.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), risks associated with the surgery include nausea, vomiting or spitting-up food, difficulty swallowing, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), indigestion or upset stomach, abdominal pain, leaking of the gastric band, stretching of the new stomach pouch, moving of the gastric band from its original position, erosion of the band through the stomach wall and into the stomach, and stretching of the esophagus.

While there are risks associated with gastric banding surgery, generally speaking, the procedure has been found to be among the safest of bariatric surgical procedures, while other procedures, such as sleeve gastrectomy can lead to life-threatening complications, such as sepsis, organ failure, and death.

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