Weight LossSurgery and the Gastric Band

The Gastric Band itself is an inflatable silicone ring that is placed 1-2cm below where the oesophagus meets the stomach. The role of the gastric band, or commonly known as a lap band, is to simulate the feeling of being full and more satisfied on a smaller amount of food. An adequately adjusted gastric band works by generating feelings of satiety (not feeling hungry) and early satiation (satisfaction). This means you can eat smaller portions of food, as you would following diet plans, such as a low carb diet, but you are not hungry and so the weight you lose is far more likely to stay off. To function properly, the band requires adjustment by inflating or deflating the inner surface according to the needs of each individual.

Gastric band surgery is a procedure used on people who are overweight (obese) in assisting weight loss. However, for successful weight loss and for the band to function properly, the band needs to be combined with behavioural changes, as well as a balanced diet and regular exercise.

The gastric band only does 30% of the work, the other 70% is derived from sensible food choices (to maintain a balanced diet), as well as increased physical exercise.

Therefore, this specific surgery is essentially based on 3 adjustments:

  • Gastric Band Adjustments
  • Food Adjustments
  • Exercise Adjustments

Gastric Band Adjustment

Reduced appetite after the initial gastric band procedure is likely to subside after a couple of weeks. The band is then adjusted again by a Bariatric Nurse or Bariatric Dietitian. It is usual to need 4 to 6 gastric band adjustments in the 6 months post-surgery.

A brief overview of How the Gastric Band Works:

  1. Stomach Compression – stimulation of nerve endings to help reduce overall hunger/appetite
  2. Further stimulation of nerve endings as each mouthful of food passes through the band – 1 mouthful of food when you have a gastric band is equivalent to several mouthfuls of food without a band. Your brain is tricked into thinking you have eaten a normal portion.

It is important to understand this feeling of fullness won’t be able to stop continuation of food consumption once you’re no longer hungry.

Food Adjustments

A liquid diet must be followed in the first two weeks following surgery to ensure optimum healing. It is so important to maintain this liquid only diet due to swelling – however, it is equally important to ensure you’re not over facing your stomach with fluids. Then after 2 weeks, soft foods can be consumed, before moving onto solid ‘textured’ foods after week 5. These are only the beginnings of the dietary adjustments necessary. After this initial recovery period, lifestyle changes continue through eating smaller portions of a balanced diet.

Exercise Adjustments

There are many benefits of being physically active after surgery, including optimising weight loss by burning calories as well as boosting your self-esteem. As you begin to lose weight, physical activity starts to become easier and your energy levels will begin to increase. It is important to get up and moving as soon as possible after surgery – this will help build up strength in your muscles. A minimum of 15 minutes of physical activity per day is a good place to start for individuals that are largely sedentary.

Positive Outcomes

A positive weight loss outcome from gastric band surgery is a result of working closely with specialist bariatric nurses and dietitians. Following their advice and being honest regarding concerns and deviations from the regime is the key to the best results possible. Positive results are achieved through diet modification, altering your relationship with food and a gradual increase of exercise following gastric band surgery.

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