Gastric band surgery shouldn’t be your first effort to lose weight. It is a procedure worth considering if you’ve had no success with weight loss attempts. To be considered for surgery, you’ll need to either have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 above and have an underlying health issue likely to improve with weight loss, or a BMI of 40 or above.
How Gastric Band Surgery is Performed
Several small incisions will be made to insert special instruments and prepare your stomach for the placement of the band. A small camera will be used to guide the surgeon. The band will be wrapped around the upper portion of your stomach. A thin tube attached to the band will be left under the skin. This is what’s called an access port that will allow the band to be filled and adjusted. The band will be inflated after you recover from the initial surgery, which usually takes about 4-6 weeks.
What to Expect After Surgery
You will be given instructions on what activities you can safely do, such as bathing, after surgery. You will be on a liquid diet for the first few weeks as you heal and get used to the band. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. You may be given vitamin supplements to compensate for any nutritional deficiencies. Some patients also benefit from working with a dietician. As you transition to solid foods, you will need to chew your food carefully and learn to recognize your body’s signs that you are full so you don’t overeat during meals.
Weight Loss Following Surgery
Weight loss for many patients is a slow and steady process following gastric band surgery. You will have several follow-up visits following the procedure so your progress can be tracked. The band may be adjusted periodically based on the results you are seeing and how well you are doing with the band placement. The band can also be adjusted if you’re not losing sufficient weight or loosened if you don’t need your stomach restricted as much once you start to lose weight. Some patients continue to lose weight 2-3 years following the surgery.
You may experience a wide range of emotions before and after gastric band surgery. Ask questions and discuss your weight loss goals with your doctor beforehand so you have realistic expectations. Understand that you’ll need to commit to making healthy eating choices and getting regular exercise to further extend your benefits from the procedure. When combined with other lifestyle adjustments, gastric band surgery can be an effective weight loss method.