The Problem with The Gastric Band
Gastric banding was a popular weight loss operation. The short-term results were good in terms of operative death rate, complications, weight loss and health benefits. However, the long-term results are disappointing in most patients with failure to reach or maintain adequate weight loss in 40-60%, band related complications such was slippage, erosion and prolapse, and patient intolerance. Gastric band removal alone is almost always associated with rapid return to presurgery weight.
Sleeve gastrectomy is quickly becoming the most commonly performed weight loss operation worldwide. It is also becoming a favoured option for patients with failed gastric band.
Gastric Bands are Removable but Not Truly Reversible!
Proponents of the gastric band often argue that one of the advantages of the gastric band is being reversible since the band can be removed should problems occur. While it is true that the band can be removed, the stomach does not return back to normal after removing the band. A thick band of scar remains on the top part of the stomach where the band was sitting. In addition, suturing the stomach over the band during placement of the band leaves a tunnel after removing the band. This tunnel and scar tissue can compromise the success and safety of further weight loss operations such as sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. For this reason gastric bands showed be viewed as removal but not reversible and this should be taken into consideration before deciding on having gastric band surgery.
There is a growing scientific evidence that waiting 3-6 months after removing the gastric band allows the stomach to recover and the scar tissue to soften before undergoing an alternative weight loss operation. This reduces the complication rate of future operations.