The gastric banding procedure (also called lap-band surgery) is weight loss surgery that uses an adjustable silicone band to restrict the size of the stomach, which limits the amount of food that can be consumed at one time. This helps patients:
- Lose excess body weight
- Improve weight-related health conditions
- Enhance quality of life
The gastric band, placed around the upper part of the stomach, is filled with saline solution to create a smaller stomach pouch that can hold only a small amount of food. The band also controls the stomach outlet, or “stoma,” between the new upper pouch and the lower part of the stomach.
When the stomach is smaller, patients feel full faster, while the food moves more slowly between the upper and lower stomach as it is digested. As a result, patients eat less and lose weight.
During the lap band procedure, surgeons typically use laparoscopic technique — making tiny incisions and employing long-shafted instruments — to wrap the band around the patient’s stomach. Like a wristwatch, the band is fastened around the upper stomach to create the new stomach pouch.
After gastric band placement, the surgeon can always change the size of the stomach outlet by adding or subtracting saline to the device. This adjustment process helps determine the rate of weight loss:
- If the band is too loose and weight loss is inadequate, adding more saline can reduce the size of the stoma to further restrict the amount of food that can move through it.
- If the band is too tight, the surgeon will remove some saline to loosen the band and reduce the amount of restriction.
- The diameter of the band can be modified to meet individual needs, which can change as patients lose weight. For example, pregnant patients can expand their band to accommodate a growing fetus, while patients who are not experiencing significant weight loss can have their bands tightened.
- Small incisions and minimal scarring
- Reduced pain, length of hospital stay and recovery period
- Low risk of nutritional deficiencies associated with gastric bypass
- Reduced risk of hair loss
- No “dumping syndrome” (food moving too quickly from the stomach to the small intestine) related to dietary intake restrictions
- Allows individualized degree of restriction for ideal rate of weight loss
- Adjustments are performed without additional surgery
- Stomach outlet size can opened to accommodate increased nutritional needs for pregnant women
- Reversible stomach restriction
- Removable at any time
- Stomach and other anatomy are generally restored to their original form and function
- Effective long-term weight loss