Band bariatric surgery is a weight loss surgery used to reduce the size of the stomach. This is accomplished by using a belt to separate part of the stomach into a smaller pouch. Vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG) and adjustable gastric band (AGB) surgeries are the two conventional types of band bariatric surgery.
Vertical banded gastroplasty uses a bariatric band in conjunction with surgical staples. In VGB surgeries, a hole is cut in the stomach and the bariatric band is placed through the hole and then wrapped around the outside of the stomach. This slows digestion by restricting the size of the exit through which food passes. The goal is to make the patient feel full longer.
After the band is in place, the section above is separated from the rest of the stomach by a row of surgical staples. The resulting pouch generally holds between 1 ounce and 2 ounces (around 28 grams to 57 grams) of food. By combining the gastric band and the reduced size of usable stomach, the patient often feels satisfied on less food for a protracted length of time. This type of band bariatric surgery is often referred to as stomach-stapling.
Adjustable gastric band surgery is performed by laparoscopic surgery and is frequently called lap-band surgery. Two or three small incisions are made in the abdominal area, and the gastric band is threaded through one of these incisions. The band is then wrapped around the top of the stomach and tightened to create a small food pouch.
Lap bands are expandable and adjustments are made by filling the band with saline. This is usually accomplished by injecting the solution into a port left by the physician during the band bariatric surgery. This port is generally anchored to the muscles in the diaphragm wall, just below the skin.
Any band bariatric surgery has associated risks. Post-operative pain and infection are the most frequent complaints, and decreased food consumption combined with poor diet choices can lead to malnutrition and dehydration. Bariatric bands can sometimes slip, causing pain and, in rare cases, internal damage. These slippages often require corrective surgery. Complications resulting in death are rare but possible.
Patients must meet specific criteria to be eligible for band bariatric surgery. Generally, a patient must be at least 80 pounds to 100 pounds (36 kilograms to 45 kilograms) overweight and have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above to be considered. Patients must be between 18 and 60 years of age and in good enough health to endure the surgery itself. Many doctors require that a patient show evidence of the inability to lose weight using non-surgical weight loss methods.
Weight loss is highly probable after either VBG or AGB surgeries, but patients rarely reach a healthy weight using the surgery alone. Changes in diet and exercise are still required for weight maintenance after band bariatric surgery. Patients are encouraged to see the procedure as a tool rather than a solution.