Adjustable gastric band
Gastric band is a restrictive bariatric surgery technique in which stomach capacity is reduced by inserting an adjustable ring around the mouth of the stomach, so that the patient eats less. It is a minimally-invasive laparoscopic treatment with no scars and fast recovery. After the surgery the ring can be adjusted and even removed. It is therefore a completely reversible operation.
This is probably the most common surgery worldwide. It is a very attractive technique for obese patients because of its reversibility, simplicity and safety, although it has clearly less effectiveness on metabolic disease than other techniques such as sleeve gastrectomy or bypass.
Who can receive this treatment?
Any patient with a BMI of more than 35 can be a candidate for this surgery. However, before choosing this treatment, a complete assessment of the patient is required to study which technique is best for each particular case. This treatment is not applied to at-risk patients with severe heart disease or patients with cognitive problems that prevent them from understanding the surgery and committing to a change of habits after the operation. Patients with eating disorders may also be excluded, although they can be treated preventively.
Weight loss is not as significant as with other techniques such as sleeve gastrectomy or bypass. The patient usually loses 40-60% of the total target, although the figures are variable and in some cases the weight is recovered.
What happens after the surgery?
As it is a simple technique, recovery is fast. The hospital stay is one or two days and patients return to work immediately. The patient can ingest liquids on the day following the operation and progressively adds other food. The specialist indicates the diet to be followed, which is relatively easy because of the sensation of satiety.
Weight loss is very fast in the first few months, although the benefits for health are noticed in the first month. Although the metabolic effect is considerably less than with other operations, it can improve and cure mild diabetes, hypertension, sleep disorder and apnoea, among others. Total weight loss takes a year to a year and a half, although it can be recovered and in some cases patients require surgery again.
Gentle and progressive sport is recommended for the first 3 or 4 months, after which it can be practised normally.
As with all bariatric surgery techniques, the outcome will depend on the patient's attitude and change of habits. Even so, gastric band does not guarantee such as definitive outcome as bypass or sleeve gastrectomy and the patient can recover the weight lost.