How does it work?
The gastric band operation is a type of weight loss surgery where the size of your stomach is reduced using an adjustable band so you can only eat small meals. As the upper part of the stomach is filled, the brain receives a message that the entire stomach is full and this helps the person to feel hungry less often and for a longer period of time. Consequently, you eat smaller portions. The result is weight loss over time. Pretty simple, right?
The gastric band tends to be fitted with keyhole surgery and takes between 30 minutes to an hour - a short amount of time for something that could lead to a lifetime of being svelte. Four to five small cuts on your upper abdomen are made and then small instruments are guided by a super duper telescope with a camera to secure the band around the top part of the stomach, creating a pouch. The pouch fills up quickly and the food you eat is then passed slowly through a narrow opening into the stomach and digested normally.
This band is locked so it cannot come undone, and the initial cuts are closed with a few stitches. Your surgeon will adjust the band a few weeks after your procedure as the swelling from surgery needs time to settle down. In the first few months after your operation, you are likely to have your band adjusted two or three times.
Normally patients lose 1 to 2 pounds a week repeatedly, but heavier patients can lose weight more quickly in the initial periods. Although the procedure can call for hard work in the first few years, this in turn encourages better eating habits which aids long term weight stability – so no quitters allowed! However, surgery is only recommended where other alternatives like diet, exercise and medicines have failed to work.
Preparing for your op will differ between each individual and your surgeon will explain how to do this. Then it’s time for a few zzz’s as the procedure is carried out under general anaesthesia, which usually requires an overnight stay. No eating or drinking is allowed six hours prior to going under the knife, and it’s best to check with your anaesthetists on the finer details as each person’s will probably vary.
Blood pressure, urine and heart rate tests are also the norm. You will usually be asked to sign a consent form to confirm that you give permission for the operation to take place, and that you understand the risks and benefits of the procedure. To prevent blood clots forming in your legs, some patients are asked to wear compression stockings or have an injection containing anti-clotting medicine – not super fashionable but worth it for the results.
Is it for me?
Gastric band surgery is usually suitable for people aged between 18 and 55, who have a body mass of over 40, are 99 pounds or more over their ideal weight, have a history of obesity or have shown that dieting and weight loss just isn’t doing the trick to shift the pounds.
However you must show willingness to comply with the lifelong dietary restrictions that are required to this long term weight loss programme, so do not apply if you’re not serious about sticking to it - commitment is the key.