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Gastric band surgery is a method of controlling body weight and offers a permanent solution when supported by a lifelong commitment to weight loss.
Gastric band surgery is used to reduce stomach size so a smaller amount of food is required to make you feel full. The surgery is a minimally invasive lapascopic procedure that helps to reduce recovery time. Weight loss varies from patient to patient, but in general patients who comply with the advice given following surgery would expect to lose between 50-80% of their excess weight within two years, much of it within the first few months. Surgery helps to control weight but it also requires a commitment to a lifelong diet and regular exercise plan to maintain a healthy weight.
A gastric band may be suitable if you have found it difficult to lose weight through diet or by medication.
Once surgery is agreed, you will need to follow a strict diet in the two weeks prior to the operation in order to prepare your body for the surgery. A pre-operative diet will help shrink your liver and also reduce fat in your abdomen, allowing the surgeon to operate more easily and safely.
You will also be advised to stop smoking as this will increase your risk of getting an infection after surgery, which can slow down your recovery. It can also make your surgery less effective and can lead to complications.
Under general anaesthetic, an inflatable band is inserted using laparoscopic keyhole surgery, and placed to sit around the top of the stomach, just below the gullet, and locked into place.
The stomach can then be restricted, by inflating the band through a tube. The tubing travels internally to a port, just beneath the skin on top of the muscle of the tummy wall. This can be felt through the skin to allow injection of solution into the port that tightens the ring when adjustments are required, thus creating an hour-glass effect on the stomach.
The much smaller pouch above the ring quickly fills with food, limiting the stomach's ability to take food and restricting the ability to eat any more, whilst giving a sensation of fullness.
The band's effectiveness will be reviewed as part of your regular 8-12 week follow-up cycle and topped up if needed. It's a simple procedure to inject further saline solution through the port, which then flows into the ring, tightening it. The follow-up team will then ask you to sip some water to check that the ring is not too tight.
Although it is a permanent weight loss procedure, it can usually be removed using keyhole surgery and without any long-term consequences to your stomach.
It may take you a week or two to recover from gastric band surgery however, this can vary from person to person, so it is important to follow your surgeon's advice.
You may be asked to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots forming in the veins in your legs.
In most cases patients can leave hospital after two days and would be advised to be off work for two weeks. You will have access to a dietician for nutritional advice, including diet sheets if you wish and you will have face to face follow up appointments for several months afterwards to monitor your progress.
In the two week post-operative period you will be permitted to only take liquids, before easing yourself into more solid foods. Whilst you are off you will be advised to avoid sleeping or sitting for long periods, and to push yourself to be generally mobile, as this will help you avoid blood clots forming. You should also avoid lifting heavy objects and you should not drive.
Following surgery you will need to change your eating patterns and your diet, cutting out certain foods that may cause you problems in your changed gastro-intestinal situation. Eating smaller amounts and choosing carefully which foods you eat should help to reduce any nausea as well as helping with weight loss.
Your dietician may suggest dietary supplements to ensure you get the nutrients you need for energy and good health. You will need to eat smaller portions and will also have to chew your food thoroughly or you may experience discomfort.