Adjustable gastric band is one of the commonest operations performed worldwide.
Why is it called ‘adjustable’?
Adjustable gastric band consists of a plastic ring with a balloon, which goes around the upper part of the stomach. This is connected to a port underneath the skin. The balloon in the band offers the ‘adjustability’. The band is filled with saline to cause a small gastric pouch above the band. This will make patients feel full even after small meals. The optimal amount of inflation or filling of the band varies with each patient. If the band is under filled you are able to eat more. On the other extreme you will not be able to swallow if the band is over filled. Therefore, it is important to achieve a happy medium. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year.
What are the risks?
This procedure is safe and most of the patients will be able to go home either later the same day or after overnight stay. There are however some risks as with any other operations. Specific to this operation, there is a chance of injury to the stomach, spleen and liver during the operation. Liver diet will go a long way to minimise the chances of injury to the liver.
The port site under the skin can get infected. This infection can then track down to the band and may only be treatable by removal of the band. Therefore careful aseptic technique should be employed while filling or de-filling of the band.
Slippage, erosion, infection
In the long run, there are chances of the band slipping over the stomach. This can result in vomiting, unable to swallow, and or weight regain. In some instances this can lead to the band eroding into the stomach. Patient can become very unwell as a result of the erosion. Urgent medical help from an expert is essential in this situation. The port can also get infected as a result of the erosion with the infection tracking from within.
Overall, adjustable gastric band can achieve significant & sustained weight loss. Gastric band matches and in some cases can do better than a gastric bypass in terms of weight loss. Patient with diabetes can see improvements in the condition as they loose weight.