Gastric banding uses the LAP-BAND® System, which is an adjustable band that buckles around the top of the stomach, narrowing the opening to the remaining larger portion of the stomach. A 1 ounce “pouch” is created at the top of the stomach where the band is placed.
The inside surface of the band has an adjustable balloon that is connected by tubing to a port. Adjustments to the balloon are made by inserting a needle containing fluid into the port that permanently rests underneath the skin of the abdomen. Nothing “sticks out” of your skin, but you and your surgeon may be able to feel the port under the skin.
The injection of more fluid into the port causes the balloon to inflate narrowing the passageway for food. Removing fluid deflates the balloon and widens the passageway. The concept is to create anatomy that provides a sensation of fullness or “satiety,” after a very small and slow meal.
Think of this as an “hourglass” shape and function of the stomach: if you have a very wide-open middle part of the hourglass, everything drops through quickly and the upper part of the hourglass doesn’t feel “full.” If the hourglass is too narrow in the middle, everything is stuck and can’t make it through to the lower part. The key is finding the middle ground, where a small meal takes some time to move through the narrow spot, not too tight and not too loose.
Weight loss is often less than the gastric bypass or sleeve procedures. Estimated excess body weight loss at two years is about 40 to 50 percent. This means, of the extra weight a person is carrying, they may lose up to half of it over a few years’ time.
You are expected and required to be seen by your bariatric doctor every four to six weeks for the first year to achieve adequate restriction by adjusting the band.
No cutting, reconnecting or re-routing of the stomach or intestines is required. Also, the adjustable gastric band is removable, although weight may return quickly after the band is removed, so removing the band is not recommended unless a complication has developed with the band.