One of the biggest differences between the gastric band and other weight loss surgeries is that the effects of the gastric band are adjustable. After having your private gastric band surgery, you will need to come back to the clinic to have your band adjusted to the right size.
An Adjustable Band
The gastric band sits around your stomach, creating a small pouch and a narrowing opening that lets food move slowly into the rest of the stomach. A small tube leads from the band to a port placed under your skin. Saline can be added through this port to tighten the gastric band and increase the restriction on your stomach, or taken out to loosen the band and reduce the restriction. Maintaining the right amount of restriction ensures you experience the optimum weight loss after your private gastric band surgery. The restriction can be increased if your weight loss slows down or reduced if you experience problems such as heartburn.
How the Band is Adjusted
Your gastric band will initially need to be adjusted about six to eight weeks after your private gastric band surgery. You should then expect to have your gastric band adjusted about five or six times during the next year. Your doctor will begin by asking some questions about your diet and weight loss to help determine how much the band needs to be adjusted. After cleaning your skin, a special needle will then be inserted into the gastric band port so that the right amount of saline can be added or withdrawn. You might notice some air being released during the first adjustment before the saline is added. You won’t feel more than a small scratch as the needle goes in, a bit like having a vaccination.
The whole process will only take about 15 minutes. Afterwards, you will be asked to eat and drink something to check that the band isn’t too tight and you will need to stick to soft foods for the next 24 hours. You should be back to your normal diet after a few days, but you may notice the difference in restriction.