If there is one epidemic responsible for over 300,000 deaths in the United States each year, then that would be obesity. It has long been associated with severe health problems such as diabetes and heart disease and affects one in every three Americans. When exercise seems to be futile, weight loss surgery such as gastric banding can be an option.
Gastric banding or lap band surgery is an FDA-approved medical procedure which involves altering the digestive anatomy to reduce food intake. A band made of silicone is tied around the upper part of the stomach to minimize its size, so it could barely hold an ounce of food. The band is adjusted by injecting a saline solution into a small hole. Gastric banding is reversible depending on certain circumstances.
Gastric banding is recommended only for patients who are medically considered obese for a minimum of five years. Obese patients are those with Body Mass Index or BMI of 40 or higher which is equivalent to 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women. The surgery works best especially if the patient has no history of alcohol abuse, mental disorder, and any gastrointestinal problems.
Patients about to undergo Lap band surgery are advised to eat smaller portions in the weeks leading up to the surgery to get accustomed to having a reduced food intake capacity. Smoking cessation is also required so as not to interfere with the healing process. Exercising to lose weight before the procedure is also helpful as it can shorten hospital stay. Doctors would also recommend that herbal supplements be discontinued to avoid any complication.
Lapband surgery is generally performed within an hour under general anesthesia. The procedure begins by making three to five small incisions, instead of a single large incision. A tube with a small camera, known as a laparoscope, is inserted into the stomach to guide the placing and locking of the band. The band is held in place with sutures, leaving the rest of the stomach in its normal position.
Patients will be prescribed pain medications to get through the pain post-surgery. Complete bed rest is helpful, but early walking is also required to prevent blood clot. Liquid diets are common during the first week, with semi-solid foods introduced in the succeeding weeks. Recovery from Lap band surgery normally takes about four to six weeks.