What is a Gastric Banding?
Gastric Lap-band surgery or Gastric Banding is a surgical procedure that involves placing a small inflatable silicone band around the upper portion of the stomach while leaving the rest of the stomach intact. This creates a small pouch above the band that aims to slow down and limit the intake of food and therefore reduce calories absorbed. As the band is highly configurable we are able to increase or decrease the size of the two sections of stomach depending on the patient. Gastric banding is one of the most non-invasive surgeries and is an easily reversible procedure depending on the patients’ needs.
Gastric banding was one of the most common weight loss procedures completed in the last 10 years, unfortunately, over the last 5-8 years reports of higher complication and failure rate have arisen and since the introduction of the sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass the gastric banding technique is becoming less and less common.
Am I eligible for Gastric Banding?
As gastric banding surgery is a largely non-invasive surgery that doesn’t require stomach or intestinal reconfiguration, a large range of patients will be considered. Gastric Banding is generally considered if you have a BMI (or Body Mass Index) of 35 or higher, if you weigh over twice your ideal weight or if serious past attempts at weight loss have failed or had only slight effects.
Advantages of Gastric Banding
- One of the most non-invasive procedures offered to patients seeking bariatric help.
- No intestinal or stomach re-routing, thus rates of nutritional defects are significantly lowered.
- A relatively short-term hospital stay and recovery period.
- Is a procedure that is completely reversible depending on the patients’ needs and professional opinions.
- Food intake per sitting is decreased as the top half of the stomach is reduced to around 1/2 cup leaving patients feeling fuller sooner and satisfied longer.
- The upper portion of the stomach can be adjusted and revised later, allowing the patient to be in control of long-term weight loss.
Risks and Complications of Gastric Banding
As with any surgical procedure there are always possible complications and risks involved, these include:
- The complication rate is higher compared to other bariatric procedures. Band complications include balloon leakage, band erosion and band slippage.
- Digestion and Bowel issues may arise such as blood clots, difficulty swallowing, constipation or oesophagus dilation.
- May require revisional procedures if weight loss is unsuccessful or band slippages or other band issues have arisen, needing adjustment or band removal.
- Successful weight loss is highly impacted by the frequency of revisional appointments with your doctor.
- Longer period for desired weight loss when compared to other weight loss procedures.
Cost of the Gastric Banding
Like most surgery there is never one definite cost for a specific procedure, this is due to the different elements involved that make up the final cost. Depending on your Private Health Insurance it could cost anywhere between $1,800 – $5,000 after rebates, on the other hand, if you do not have insurance it could cost around $23,000. Some of these ranging factors include that will influence these numbers are:
- Consultation fees – Usually between $100-$200 that are usually eligible for a medicare rebate.
- Surgeons fees – Usually one of the most varying factors. This is commonly correlated with the surgeons’ experience and ability.
- Surgical assistants fees
- Anaesthetists fees
- Hospital/Facility fees
- Type of Surgery
- Post Operative Medication/Vitamins
It is important to not to take shortcuts with surgery, these are life changing operations that if not done correctly or properly by a competent and experienced surgeon could lead to some serious medical issues later down the track. It is not advised to travel to third world countries in order to find the cheapest deal possible as often you are left with a second rate surgery in a second rate theatre with no post-operative support later on. While saying that it is important to be able to tell the difference between a highly experienced surgeon who charges a bit more and a second rate surgeon who charges the same price.
After the Gastric Banding
Patients will experience a relatively short hospital stay of around a day or until patients are feeling comfortable on their road to recovery. Patients will be introduced to a full liquid diet and will slowly progress to a final normal gastric band diet within around 5 weeks. Typically around the 6th-week patients will be ready for their first adjustment procedure involving an injection of saline into a valve of the band that was placed under the skin during the original surgical procedure.
In the first year patients will need around 5-8 adjustments and around 2-3 in the following years. Symptoms that point to the need for a band adjustment include acid reflux, discomfort, nausea or lack of weight loss.