Gastric banding is a surgical treatment to reduce excess body weight and effectively treat obesity. It is opted by people who are obese and have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Gastric banding surgery is a type of bariatric surgery which aims to constrict the size of a person’s stomach in order to reduce or limit the intake of food, making the person feel fuller even after eating a small portion.

A gastric banding surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that is quick, reversible and also adjustable per need of the patient. In this surgery, the doctor will place a silicone band around the upper portion of the stomach, reducing its size to lower the intake of food. A tube is attached to the upper portion which is accessible through a port under the skin of the abdomen through which saline is injected to inflate the band. The placement of the band separates the stomach creating a small pouch that can communicate with the rest of the portion through a passage created by the band. The small pouch reasonably reduces the amount of food it can hold at one time, thus making the person feel fuller earlier in spite of eating a small portion of food. Consequently, this reduces the hunger of the person and overall food intake in return.

Procedure of the Surgery

A gastric band surgery is preferred by many because it is minimally invasive, reversible and less complicated with minimum after-effects or long-term problems. During the surgery, the patient is given general anaesthesia, and then the doctor makes 1-5 small incisions in the abdomen to place the gastric band in the stomach via a laparoscope – thin, long, flexible tube mounted with a camera. The band divides the top of the stomach to create a small pouch approximately 30 millilitres in volume, then the small intestines are divided into two segments and the bottom end of the divided small intestine is shifted up to connect the stomach pouch. Post this, the rest of the portion of the small intestine is connected to the small intestine below to allow the stomach juices, acid and digestive enzymes from the newly created stomach and the small intestine is mixed with the food.

This rerouting of the food stream causes changes in the gut hormones, making the person feel fuller easily and less hungry. It is very effective in curing diabetes type 2. Post the surgery, the patient needs to make certain changes to the diet and lifestyle such as for the initial days only consumption of fluids and water is permitted; after few days until the 4th week from the surgery, easily digestive foods such as liquids, yogurt, vegetable purees can be eaten. After 4 weeks up to the 6th week, soft foods are permitted and post the 6th week all types of food can be consumed.

Who is it for?

A gastric banding surgery is one of the safest bariatric surgeries, more so with technical advancement, the safety records of the procedure have gone up. The surgery is recommended by doctors for people who have a BMI of 30 or more and who have tried alternative methods to reduce weight but have failed. These methods include diet, exercise, and medications.

Although, this surgery is not recommended for people who:

  • Take drugs
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Smoke
  • Suffer from psychiatric problem
  • Are not willing to make the changes in diet, lifestyle, etc. 

Advantages of the Surgery

  • Long-term weight loss
  • Easy and quick recovery
  • Low chances of infection and hernia
  • Reduced health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
  • No lack of absorption of nutrients
  • Improved physical actives and overall quality of life
  • Safe procedure with no side-effects
  • Boost of self-esteem due to weight loss 

Risks of the Surgery

Some of the most common risks associated with gastric banding surgery are:

  • Reaction to anaesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Blood loss
  • Infection
  • Dilation of the esophagus
  • Injury to the stomach or other related organs
  • Hernia
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Heartburn and acid reflux
  • Bowel blockage
  • Heart attack (rare)
  • Stroke (rare)

More so, the weight loss as compared to other weight-loss surgeries will be comparatively low. The band can also slip or have problems, which would need another corrective surgery; it can also erode into the stomach. If the port shifts, another surgery may be required. Further, if diet and lifestyle changes are not followed, any sort of food consumption can cause vomiting, especially overeating can be seriously problematic.

However, in all a gastric banding surgery is preferred by many for its low risks and greater advantages, as well more so because the procedure is reversible and has minimum side-effects in comparison to other weight-loss surgeries.