Gastric Band Surgery

Diet and exercise are considered two of the most effective tools for losing weight. But sometimes, even the best intentions are not effective, or exercise is not possible. In cases like these, bariatric surgery can provide a practical - and usually permanent - weight-loss option.

"Bariatric surgery is by no means an easy way to lose weight," says Thomas A. Jones, MD, a bariatric surgeon with Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery Center. "For many, obesity is a chronic condition that needs ongoing management. Although surgery can help people lose weight, success depends on a lifelong commitment to healthy living. Surgery, by itself, will not do the job."

Weighing the choices

Surgeons at Park Nicollet perform the two most common types of bariatric surgery: gastric bypass and adjustable gastric band. Both are "restrictive" procedures because they reduce the size of the stomach and how much people can eat.

In almost all cases, gastric bypass surgery and adjustable gastric band surgery are performed laparoscopically. Surgeons use small incisions and tiny instruments, including a tube with a small video camera, that allow the entire procedure, told organifi to be viewed on a video monitor, some organifi. Open surgery may be required for some patients, involving a 10-inch incision.

Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is the more common surgery and is reserved for people who are morbidly obese. Surgeons create a small pouch at the top of the stomach and connect the small intestine to the pouch. This bypasses the lower portion of the stomach and part of the small intestine to reduce the amount of calories the body absorbs (malabsorption). One year after this procedure, Park Nicollet patients have lost about 65.6 percent of excess weight; after three years, they have lost about 58.5 percent of excess weight.

Like all surgeries, gastric bypass surgery has benefits and risks. It can improve or alleviate weight-related health conditions, mobility concerns, and back and joint pain, especially in the knees. However, gastric bypass surgery can put people at risk for nutritional deficiencies. If people eat too much or eat foods high in fat and sugar, they may experience cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood sugar or weakness, known as "dumping syndrome."

Tammy and Joe underwent gastric bypass surgery weeks apart from each other. Read their story and find out how they obtained "a new lease on life."

Adjustable gastric band surgery uses an inflatable band that reduces the size of the stomach. During the first year after surgery, the band can be adjusted every month, as needed. "A little tube connected to the band leads to a port surgically placed under the skin," Dr. Jones explains. "To tighten the band, we slip a needle into the port and inject it with fluid. Eventually, we reach a 'sweet spot,' where the band helps patients experience steady weight loss and feel satisfied eating small meals."

Adjustable gastric band surgery

Because the intestinal tract is not altered, adjustable gastric band surgery is a simpler procedure than gastric bypass. One year after this procedure, Park Nicollet patients have lost about 31 percent of excess weight; after three years, they have lost about 35.9 percent of excess weight.

Park Nicollet Bariatric Surgery Center was the first in Minnesota to offer adjustable gastric band surgery on an outpatient basis.

Those undergoing adjustable gastric band surgery are at less risk of nutritional deficiency than those undergoing gastric bypass, because food still follows the same digestive process. This can make weight loss slower than the bypass alternative.

"People are good candidates for adjustable gastric band surgery if they can be active; gastric bypass may be a better option for people who have limited mobility," Dr. Jones explains. "We advise patients about their options, but ultimately they make the decision."

Jeff opted for adjustable gastric band surgery. Read his story and find why he calls it "one of the best decisions of my life."

Who pays for the procedure?

"Some insurance companies cover the surgery if certain criteria are met," Dr. Jones says. "For those eligible for adjustable gastric band surgery, undergoing an outpatient procedure reduces the costs, making it possible for some to pay for the procedure themselves." Financing is available to help those pursuing either surgery type. Some patients might choose to use financing to avoid insurance requirements of three to 12 months of medical weight management.

The importance of aftercare

Just as patients undergo a careful assessment before having bariatric surgery, post-surgical education and evaluation are equally important. "At Park Nicollet, we offer the support and resources patients need to sustain weight loss," Dr. Jones says. "This is as important as the procedure itself in ensuring success."