Weight Loss Surgery FAQ

I want to have adjustable gastric banding, what do I need to do to move forward?

Once you have made the decision to have adjustable gastric banding surgery, you will need to attend an informational meeting to make sure this is the right decision for you. You will be required to complete paperwork and attend support group meetings prior to the surgery.

Does health insurance cover this procedure?

Most insurance companies now cover adjustable gastric banding surgery, however, depending on the type of coverage you have under your insurance policy, there may be an exclusion denying coverage due to morbid obesity. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to make sure you have coverage for banding, and if exclusion applies, you have the right to appeal it.

How do I qualify for adjustable gastric banding surgery?

According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH) the standard guidelines used to determine whether or not a patient is a candidate for bariatric surgery include having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40+, being healthy enough to have the surgery, and having tried and failed at dietary management regimens.

What are the advantages of the adjustable gastric band over other bariatric surgery options?

Some of the advantages of adjustable banding include the fact it is a minimally invasive surgery which does not require cutting, stapling or stitching. There will only be five tiny incisions in the abdomen. In addition, the digestive process remains intact because food will still pass through the stomach and the full length of the intestine. In other words, the digestive tract is not re-routed.

What surgical procedures are involved with adjustable gastric banding?

There is no cutting, stapling or stitching involved with adjustable gastric banding. Instead, through laparoscopic surgery, five tiny incisions are placed in the abdomen. A band is wrapped around the upper stomach to create a pouch. The stomach and digestive tracts stay intact.

What is the band inflated with?

Once the band is in place, it is inflated or deflated with a sterile saline solution through the access port below the skin.

Is there any scarring after surgery?

Since the surgery is done laproscopically and there are only five tiny incisions placed in the abdomen there is minimal scarring, and the incisions typically heal quickly.

What are the risk factors during and following surgery?

Any and all surgeries come with risks including the slight risks of heart attack, blood clot or even death. Although adjustable gastric banding is not an invasive surgery, there is still the risk that the access port can leak and need to be replaced. Infections can also be a risk.

What are some complications from the band?

Although not common, some of the known complications of the band include band slippage or erosion, leaks in the tubing, and port infection.

Will I be sick a lot following surgery?

Banding reduces food intake, therefore if you are experiencing nausea or sickness, you may not be following your proper diet or you may not be chewing your food well enough. If you are feeling ill on a regular basis, your band should be checked to make sure there is no slippage.

How long is recovery following surgery?

With laparoscopic banding, most patients return to work within a week and to exercising within a month to six weeks.

How much weight will I lose?

As long as patients are committed to their new lifestyle and eating habits, a one to three pound per week weight loss can be expected in the first year. Within a year or so following surgery, that weight loss slows down. These results vary patient to patient. If patients lose weight too quickly, they could experience many other health issues. Being committed to the long-term dietary changes and following up with scheduled office visits are the keys to success following surgery.

Does adjustable gastric banding limit physical activity?

No, the band does not hinder physical activity of any kind.

How is the band adjusted?

Band adjustment is completed on an outpatient basis with or without local anesthesia. A fine needle is passed through the skin into the access port to add or decrease saline. The process usually takes a few minutes.

Will I experience discomfort from the access port?

Once in place under your skin, the access port should not cause you any discomfort or pain. If you do feel pressure or discomfort in the area of the port, you should contact the physician's office immediately.

Can the band be removed?

The band can be removed, but it is not meant to be. If removed, the stomach generally returns to its original shape.

Will I feel hungry with the band?

The band is meant to help you change your eating habits by making you eat less and feel full. The band reduces the capacity of your stomach, and it increases the amount of time it takes for food to travel through your digestive system. The idea is to feel full after a small meal. As long as you follow the nutritional guidelines and chew your food well, you should not feel hungry.

Is it safe to become pregnant following surgery?

It is always easier to become pregnant the more weight you lose. Also, your menstrual cycle should become more regular once you lose weight. If you need to eat more during pregnancy, your band can be loosened during this time period.

What can I eat?

You can eat anything in moderation after your stomach has healed. For two weeks following surgery you will be on a liquid diet. After that, you will want to eat foods that do not cause you discomfort. Because you can only eat small amounts of food at any given time, you will want to eat foods that contain vitamins and nutrients such as lean protein, fresh vegetables and whole wheat starches. You should avoid foods and beverages that are high in fat or calories because they will limit the success of your band. When going out to eat, you should order only a small amount of food like an appetizer and eat slowly.

Do I need to take vitamins?

You will need to take a daily multivitamin.

Will I experience constipation?

Because you will be eating less fiber, the volume of your stools may be reduced. If you do experience difficulties, you should let us know as soon as possible.