In our increasingly body and health conscious culture, more and more people are turning to surgical solutions to the problems of weight gain.
As the numbers of people who are classified as being clinically and morbidly obese increase, patients from all sections of society are being referred or seeking to qualify for the insertion of a Gastric Band to help them gain control over their eating habits and reduce their body weight.
What is a Gastric Band?
A gastric band is a small plastic ring that is surgically applied around the tissues of the stomach, the ring is then inflated to constrict the stomach pouch reducing its capacity and making it physically impractical and uncomfortable for the patient to overeat. The level of inflation of the band can be adjusted after surgery to ensure optimal results and for patient safety.
Who Can Have a Gastric Band?
Doctors will usually only recommend a gastric band for patients who are morbidly obese and therefore at risk of life threatening health conditions as a result of their weight. Gastric banding will usually only be carried out when patients have attempted and failed at other methods of weight loss, such as through diet and exercise – or in instances when patients are incapable of these for other reasons.
How is a Gastric Band Inserted?
Gastric band surgery is usually carried out laparoscopically (using ‘keyhole” surgery) as this method is less invasive and helps to speed recovery after surgical intervention. Before the surgery patients may be asked to demonstrate their commitment to their treatment and recovery by achieving a certain level of weightloss independently, this can also help to reduce fat inside the abdomen and can reduce the chances of complications and make the procedure more simple for the surgeon involved.
What Happens Once a Gastric Band is in Place?
Once a gastric band has been inserted the patient will need to follow a strict regime in order to ensure optimum weightloss as well as aiding their own recovery. In the early stages post-surgery patients will need to follow a liquid diet and will slowly move on to pureed foodstuff and small amounts of easily digestible solids. Patients will need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure that they do not become deficient since the reduced intake of foods will make it unlikely their bodies will be able to source all the nutrients needed from their meals. Patients who follow the instructions of their healthcare provider are likely to see results quickly, with many reporting rapid weightloss.
Benefits and Risks of Gastric Band Surgery
There are a number of documented benefits of gastric ban surgery, most of which are general benefits of weightloss for the obese such as:
Reduced risk of heart disease/diabetes and other obesity related illness
Reduced stress and strain on joints
Increased capacity for activity and exercise
Increased confidence and improved body image
However, anyone considering weightloss surgery should also be aware of the risks which include:
Anaesthetic – general anaesthetics can be fatal in certain cases and are more dangerous for those who are overweight.
Infection – Invasive surgery always carried the risk of possible infection.
Malnutrition – if patients do not follow instructions post surgery they run the risk of malnutrition
Band Failure – some bands shift, while patients who do not stick to medical advice may find that the reduce stomach pouch stretches to allow them to overeat again.