Gastric Band Removal
A gastric band is fitted when a patient is classed as obese and has a body mass index of over 40, or over 35 with weight related health complications. Gastric band operations are intended to be reversible with the stomach returning to its original size once the band is removed. There can be numerous reasons why patients later choose to have the band removed including reaching their optimum weight, health complications or pregnancy.
Why remove the band?
Before patients initially have their gastric band fitted they are advised to keep it for life. This is to maintain their weight loss and also because the removal operation carries increased risks than the original procedure. However sometimes there are situations when it is in the patients best interests to remove the band. Sometimes complications with the original surgery will cause patients to need the band removing. The band is made of a soft plastic, however it is still a foreign body and for some patients this can lead to the band becoming infected. In other patients the band will continuously rub against the stomach, which will erode it over time. If antibiotics do not work then in both of these situations the band will need to be removed.
Some people, most notably Sharon Osbourne, decide to have their band removed for personal reasons. Sharon Osbourne decided to use therapy to continue her weight loss as she had begun to ‘cheat’ her band which led to it being ineffective. She believed her weight issues were due to emotional problems and in order to maintain a healthy weight she would need to deal with these issues first.
Pregnancy is also a time when women may need the band removing. This can be due to both morning sickness and getting enough nutrients to the baby whilst it is in the womb. Patients are advised to not have the band replaced until after they have finished breast feeding, to make sure that both mother and baby are getting all the nutrients they require.
Removal of the band
A gastric band can be removed at any time after the operation, although removing the band can cause the patient to start regaining weight. When a gastric band is removed the patient’s stomach will revert back to the size it was before the operation. If the patient then reverts back to their old eating habits they will start putting weight on.
If the band was fitted using laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery it is possible to remove it in the same way. However if this fails open surgery will need to be performed to remove the band. Open surgery requires a much longer recovery time for the patient.
Studies have found that after gastric band removal 88% of people gain weight. Many people found that they needed the gastric band to first lose weight and also to maintain their healthy weight. As gastric band removal surgery carries increased risks than the original surgery it is not a decision to be taken lightly.