How Safe Is Gastric Banding Surgery?

Long touted as a safer alternative to gastric bypass surgery, gastric banding has quickly become a popular cure for obesity problems among teenagers. But some are asking questions about the efficacy and safety of the procedure, according to a Reuters report.

“I think there’s a fundamental problem with putting a rigid plastic object around a moving organ. You’re asking it to stay in place and not erode over a long period of time. I’ll be happy to reverse my position as soon as I see 10- or 20-year data. Unfortunately, that’s not something that the industry is excited about funding,” Dr. Mary Brandt, an investigator on a study into the side effects of bariatric surgery on teens, told Reuters.

While researchers acknowledge that there are still plenty of unknowns about gastric banding, they maintain that the procedure can be hugely beneficial to those suffering from severe obesity.

Dr. Jeffrey Zitsman, a pediatric surgeon with Columbia University Medical Center told Reuters that it’s important to correct obesity before it can cause additional health problems later in life.

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery is done using a tiny camera that is placed in your belly. This type of surgery is called laparoscopy Medline describes. The camera is called a laparoscope. It allows your surgeon to see inside your belly. In this surgery:

  • Your surgeon will make 1 – 5 small surgical cuts in your abdomen. Through these small cuts, the surgeon will place a camera and the instruments needed to perform the surgery.
  • Your surgeon will place a band around the upper part of your stomach to separate it from the lower part. This creates a small pouch that has a narrow opening that goes into the larger, lower part of your stomach.
  • The surgery does not involve any cutting or stapling inside your belly.
  • Your surgery may take only 30 – 60 minutes if your surgeon has done a lot of these procedures.

Experts say the secondary effects of obesity can result in serious health disorders such as heart disease, diabetes, and death. Because of the mortality risks involved with obesity, consumers who are overweight also pay elevated life insurance rates.

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