Under a general anaesthetic, using laparoscopic (key-hole) surgery techniques, a soft silicone band is placed around the top of the stomach, just below the junction between the food pipe (esophagus) and the stomach. The inner lining of the band is a balloon which is connected by tubing to a reservoir which is secured under the skin on the abdominal wall.
A special non-coring needle is used to inject fluid (saline) to tighten or loosen the band around the stomach. This limits the portion size one can eat. High calorie fluids however will still pass through the band without any restriction and can therefore jeopardize weight loss if one does not make the appropriate food choices.
In order to obtain satisfactory weight loss, the gastric band needs to be adjusted (tightened or loosened) to achieve optimal restriction without causing an obstruction. The frequency of this will vary from person to person and can sometimes be difficult to accomplish. The changes to eating habits (eating slowly, chewing well and not having liquids with meals) may also be difficult to achieve. These factors can result in variable and sometimes disappointing weight loss results for some.
All types of weight loss surgery carry risks. Most patients will not experience any complications but it is important that you are aware of the risks so you can make an informed decision regarding your surgery.
Risks can generally be divided into general surgical risks and specific risks.
General risks include but are not limited to:-
Risks of anaesthesia and medications
Injury to adjacent organs
Deep venous thrombosis ( blood clots in the leg veins)
Pulmonary embolus ( blood clots in the lung)
Failure to lose weight
Specific risks of gastric banding include but are not limited to :-
Band slippage – 3-5% chance- will require surgical correction (sometimes urgently) to avoid injury to stomach
Band erosion – 5% chance – will require surgery to repair the damaged stomach wall
Mechanical problems including tubing fracture, port or band leakage – will require surgery to correct
Overall there may be a 15-20 % chance of reoperation in the long term after gastric banding to correct a problem arising from the gastric band.
For a more detailed discussion regarding risks we recommended that you discuss your individual circumstances with your surgeon.
On average, one can expect to lose up to 50 % of one’s excess weight (using an Ideal Weight BMI of 25). This may take up to 18 months following surgery and will depend on a optimal band adjustments, dietary modifications and exercise.