Most people who need to lose 65 or more pounds have tried multiple times to lose the weight on their own. While they may have some success at first, less than five percent of people keep the weight off for five years or more. 

– Philip Schauer, MD, bariatric surgeon and Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery is a restrictive weight-loss procedure in which a band is placed around the upper portion of the stomach to help limit portion sizes. Gastric banding surgery helps you feel full with less food, so you can consume fewer calories and lose excess weight.

What is a gastric band?

gastric bandingCommonly known under the popular brand names LAP-BAND and Realize Band, a gastric band is a soft, adjustable silicone band or ring that is placed around the upper portion of the stomach. This separates the stomach into two different chambers: a small upper stomach and the remaining lower part of the stomach. The purpose of the gastric band is to limit food intake and slow the passing of food to the lower part of the stomach and digestive tract. This allows you to stay full for longer periods of time while consuming less food.

The gastric band has a small, narrow tube that connects to an access point just below your skin on the abdominal wall. Using this port, your bariatric surgeon can make adjustments to the band at any time to increase or decrease the size of your stomach pouch, and to accommodate health conditions such as pregnancy. A fuller band creates a smaller stomach pouch that reduces food intake and slows the emptying of food into the lower part of the stomach. In the weeks, months, and years following gastric banding surgery, you may need to visit your doctor regularly to have the band adjusted as you gradually work toward achieving your weight-loss goals.

What happens during laparoscopic gastric banding surgery?

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery is performed under general anesthesia, and takes between 30 minutes and one hour to complete.

Your bariatric surgeon begins by making five or six incisions on your abdomen to allow for the insertion of the laparoscope and other small surgical tools used to perform the procedure. The laparoscope is a tiny camera that helps your surgeon gain a better view of the inside of your stomach and perform a precise surgery. Your surgeon then places a small silicone gastric band around the upper part of your stomach to create a small stomach pouch, and attaches the gastric band to an access port on your abdominal wall.

The band will be deflated at the time of surgery, as your stomach will need time to heal before receiving the first fill. During future appointments with your surgeon, the band will be filled to reduce your stomach size as needed.

The Lap-Band System

LAP-BAND AP® System - The Most Advanced Gastric Band

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What are the advantages of gastric banding surgery?

Gastric banding surgery is an evidence-based weight-loss procedure designed to help you lose weight by reducing the amount of food you can eat at one time.

Additional benefits of laparoscopic gastric banding include:

Weight loss

People who receive gastric banding surgery lose an average of between one-third and one-half of their excess weight. Weight loss with the gastric band usually happens more gradually than other surgical weight-loss procedures, as there is no removal of any portion of the stomach or re-routing of intestines to trigger rapid weight-loss results. On average, people who undergo gastric banding surgery continue losing weight for the following three years.

Less invasive

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery is less invasive than many other weight-loss surgeries. Gastric banding is completely reversible and doesn’t involve removal or re-routing of any organs involved in the digestive process.

People who need the gastric band removed due to certain medical conditions or for personal reasons can do so without facing serious risks or complications. This bariatric procedure has been found to be a safe and effective method of weight loss at the 3-year follow-up.

Adjustable for your personal weight-loss needs

A major benefit of gastric banding surgery is having the option to adjust the band based on your personal health and weight-loss needs. For instance, if you feel that your gastric band is no longer helping you stay full or lose weight, you can visit your bariatric surgeon to have the band filled with more saline fluid.

Women who have the gastric band and who become pregnant can have their bands deflated so they can eat more food and experience a healthier, more comfortable pregnancy.

Lap-Band advantages

LAP-BAND® System Advantages

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What are the risks and disadvantages of gastric banding surgery?

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery comes with its own risks, just like any other surgery or medical procedure. You can greatly reduce your risk of complications by following your doctor’s pre- and post-op instructions, such as quitting smoking and exercising regularly.

Some of the risks and disadvantages associated with gastric banding surgery include:

Potential complications

Risks of anesthesia and any surgery include infection, blood clots that may travel to lungs, heart attack, and stroke. Risks and potential complications specific to laparoscopic gastric banding surgery include slipping of the stomach through the band, gastritis, infection at the port site, and scarring in the belly, which can cause bowel blockage. You may experience vomiting if you eat portions of food larger than the stomach pouch can hold.

Weight regain

Gastric banding is not a cure or quick fix for weight loss, but can be used to help you achieve your weight-loss goals if you’ve already tried other methods that haven’t worked. To benefit from continued weight loss, you must continue exercising regularly and eating healthy foods even after having gastric banding surgery. Living a sedentary lifestyle or resorting to eating unhealthy foods can cause you to regain weight you lost following your surgery.

Major lifestyle changes

Gastric banding surgery requires you to make significant lifestyle changes. Gastric banding can produce positive weight-loss results, but only if you practice optimal nutrition, take nutritional supplements as directed by your doctor, and exercise regularly for weight management. Failing to adopt a healthy lifestyle after gastric banding can compromise the results of your procedure.

You will also need to become accustomed to certain eating behaviors that are unique to gastric banding. For example, many gastric banding patients experience discomfort if they attempt to drink through a straw. You will also need to chew food very thoroughly in order to keep food from getting stuck in the band.

How can I prepare for laparoscopic gastric banding surgery?

Weight-loss surgery requires you to make lifelong commitments and healthy changes surrounding your diet and exercise regimen. Nutrition counseling and education may be offered at your weight-loss clinic so you can learn how to lead a healthy lifestyle following laparoscopic gastric banding surgery. Your bariatric surgeon will give you detailed pre-op instructions, including information on when you can eat and drink before surgery.

How to prepare for laparoscopic gastric banding:

  • Inform your surgeon about any medications, medicines, herbs, vitamins, supplements, and other substances you may be using, since these can interfere with anesthesia and surgery.
  • Start eating healthier foods to prepare your body for surgery and for life after surgery.
  • Start chewing and eating your food more slowly, since this is required for your smaller post-surgery stomach.
  • If you smoke, quit smoking at least 30 days before your gastric banding surgery, as smoking increases the risk of surgery-related complications and delays the body’s healing process.
  • Start exercising regularly to lose as much excess weight as possible before surgery, which helps lower the risk of complications during surgery.
  • Replace unhealthy foods in your kitchen with healthy counterparts and foods approved for post-surgery eating, such as chicken broth and vegetables that can be pureed.
  • Prepare your bedroom or living room for post-op recovery, and place essentials nearby so you can relax without having to move around excessively.
  • Make childcare or pet arrangements as necessary for the days you’ll be having and recovering from your laparoscopic gastric banding surgery.

Don’t hesitate to ask your bariatric surgeon any other questions you may have about preparing for surgery, since doing so can reduce your risk of complications and promote a smooth recovery.

What happens after laparoscopic gastric banding surgery?

A key advantage of laparoscopic gastric banding is the ability to visit your bariatric surgeon any time to have the band adjusted, or “filled.” Your first band fill will take place about six weeks following surgery, after your stomach has completely healed. Following the first fill, you can have your gastric band adjusted between four and six times per year. Regular appointments with your bariatric surgeon can promote weight loss, and can help ensure the band isn’t too tight to the point it causes discomfort or interferes with your ability to perform everyday tasks.

Following gastric banding surgery, you’ll need to eat small portions of healthy foods that promote weight loss and overall nutrition. Eggs, beans, and fish are just some foods that can be consumed in small portions and that can help you stay full and energetic. Your bariatric surgeon will also recommend that you exercise regularly to enhance the effects of the gastric band and to keep weight off long-term after reaching your goal weight.

Keep track of the foods and portions you eat and whether they cause discomfort so you can avoid certain foods that cause negative reactions. Chew and eat your food slowly and thoroughly to avoid overeating, since your stomach pouch will be much smaller than before. Don’t hesitate to contact your bariatric surgeon if at any time you feel something is wrong with the gastric band, or you experience discomfort when eating.

Is laparoscopic gastric banding surgery right for me?

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery may be ideal for you if your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher, or 35 or higher with health conditions that can be improved with weight loss, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. This type of bariatric surgery is also ideal if you’re severely obese, or have tried other weight-loss methods that haven’t led to long-term results.

Use our search directory to find a bariatric surgeon near you who can help you lose weight using laparoscopic gastric banding surgery. A bariatric surgeon can determine whether you’re an ideal candidate for this procedure, or recommend other weight-loss solutions that work best for you.

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