Adjustable Bands

What is an Adjustable Gastric Band?

The Adjustable Gastric Band is a weight-loss surgery performed by Dr. Howard in which an adjustable silicone band is placed around the top of the stomach, creating a small pouch that holds less food. You have probably seen them advertised as the LAP-BAND or Realize band.  

Once food has filled this small pouch patients learn that they can no longer eat another bite, any other food is eaten, then the band forces you to throw up.  People who have this procedure feel full faster and longer. Compared to other bariatric surgery options, an adjustable gastric band procedure tends to be a less complicated surgery.  

What makes the gastric band adjustable?

The band can be adjusted (made tighter) by filling it with saline through a port located just underneath the skin. The concept is to replicate a full stomach to create a sensation of “fullness” after a small meal. Dr. Howard will adjust the fullness of the pouch for you during an office visit.  Typically patients need 4-6 adjustments in the first year and about 2-3 every year thereafter.   

Benefits of an Adjustable Gastric Band

One of the primary benefits of this type of weight loss surgery is that it doesn’t require any part of your stomach or intestines to be divided or removed. It’s also a less complicated surgery than other weight loss surgery options. With gastric band surgery, patients can lose 45-55% of their excess body weight.

There are many benefits of weight loss surgery, while the cosmetic benefits may seem to be the most apparent reason for an adjustable gastric band procedure, the health benefits are much more substantial. Losing excess weight can help reduce your risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems such as: 

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure 
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Sleep apnea
  • Acid reflux/GERD

Also, losing excess weight can leave you with increased mobility, energy, and stamina. 

The Procedure

Adjustable gastric band weight loss surgery leads to weight loss by placing an adjustable band around the stomach that essentially creates a small stomach pouch. As you eat, food will fill the small stomach pouch quickly, making you feel full much sooner and reducing the amount of food you eat. This weight loss surgery procedure also increases the time it takes for the stomach to empty, making you feel full longer. 

The device consists of

  • a band
  • a balloon-like structure located on the inside of the band
  • connection tubing
  • a plastic access port

As the balloon inside the band is filled with saline, it expands, and the stomach pouch gets smaller, making it harder for food to pass. After the band is placed around the top of the stomach, the band tubing is connected to a small plastic access port placed under the skin. The access port is used to add or remove fluid from the band.

Adjustable band procedures are performed laparoscopically, with just a few small incisions and one medium incision for the port placement. For most patients, this means a shorter hospital stay, with most patients leaving the same day as surgery. 

Expected Weight Loss

45-55% of your excess weight can be lost with an adjustable gastric band.

Weight loss for gastric band surgery patient is generally less and slower than for a sleeve surgery patient or a gastric bypass surgery patient. Follow-up clinic appointments for gastric band adjustments and evaluations are extremely important for weight loss success. Dedication to exercise, behavior modification, and proper food choices are necessary to help achieve optimal results.

Who is Eligible for an Adjustable Gastric Band? 

An adjustable gastric band procedure is an alternative for patients who may not be good candidates for gastric bypass or for those who would prefer something other than sleeve gastrectomy. For most insurance companies the requirements for an adjustable gastric band are: 

  • You have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher  OR You have a BMI of 35 or higher and experience severe negative health effects related to being obese.
  • Psychological evaluation
  • Nutrition evaluation 
  • You cannot achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period, even through medically-supervised dieting and exercising
  • You are willing and able to follow through with diet and exercise recommendations made by your health care team.

For more information on the adjustable gastric band procedure or to schedule an appointment at our office in The Woodlands to meet with Dr. Howard. Contact us today.