You've probably heard of stomach stapling by now, but here's another option you may not be aware of. Instead of cutting and stapling, a few doctors are trying stomach banding.
It is approved by the FDA. Using a tiny arthroscopic opening, doctors wrap an implantable band around the upper part of the stomach in a procedure that takes less than an hour. When the band is in place, the two ends are drawn together and snapped closed. Weight loss is more gradual with banding than gastric bypass, but results may be longer lasting.
"They can lose slightly over 50% of their excess body weight over about three years, and that will maintain up to 7 to 10 years," says Dr. Layton Alldredge, surgeon.
Another benefit of banding over stomach stapling is that the band can be tightened or loosened by simply adding or removing saline solution through a small abdominal port during a routine visit to the doctor. So, for example, if the patient is pregnant, and needs to eat more, the band can be adjusted during those months.
If the patient wants the band removed, that can be done just as easily as it was implanted. The problem though is that side effects are common with stomach banding. In fact, one in four patients end up removing the band because of either nausea, vomiting, heartburn, or abdominal pain.
Dr. Layton Allredge is at Alta View Hospital in Alta View, Utah. The stomach band device for the management of severe obesity has been given regulatory approval for use in the U.S. While it can be effective, in a series of 299 patients, 36% weight loss over three years was typical, side effects are common. Only 5% of patients failed to lose weight, and 2% actually gained weight.
90% reported side effects including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, or abdominal pain. Slippage of the band was a problem. About one in four patients requested removal of the band, mainly because of side effects, but in some instances, because of failure to lose weight.
As with other surgical methods, results depend on patient compliance and inability to adhere to the restriction on meal size inevitably causes difficulties. After all, these patients failed to lose weight with more conventional management in the first place.
Whether this device can be considered a valuable addition to the management of severe obesity is debatable.