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Why a gastric band the is not the answer to losing weight

scale measuring tape and dumbbellsOver the last 10 years or so, the number of people classified as obese has risen dramatically. This is especially the case in the United Sates, and also in European countries such as the UK and Germany where the average diet comprises of higher calorie foods. Gastric bands are now being fitted by some surgeons as a quick fix to a person’s weight problem. 2785

It is very easy for a person to overeat and with little exercise it becomes even easier to go from being overweight, to obese. The problem is that many people fail to realize they have a weight problem until they develop other health problems, such as breathlessness, muscle pain, tiredness, headaches, indigestion to name but a few. Sometimes it takes a friend or relative to come along and tell them they look like they’ve put on weight. Sometimes the truth hurts, but helping someone wake up and face the reality of their weight problem can be the first step on the road to a healthy lifestyle. 2786

The Internet has given the average person access to a vast wealth of health-related information, and this has been both a good thing and a bad thing. Many overweight and obese people now feel that a gastric band is a quick fix for their weight problem, rather than a healthy diet and exercise plan. They regard it like cosmetic surgery or like having liposuction, when in reality, it should be treated like a major operation and not entered into lightly. 2787

A gastric band is a device that is fitted surgically around the top of the stomach during keyhole surgery. Advances in surgery now allow surgeons to perform this procedure by making two or three incisions into the abdomen. A camera is inserted into one of the holes and the surgeon can locate the stomach and position the band then tighten it quite simply. The band itself is squeezed through one of the incisions so there are no ugly scars after the operation. 2814

Having a gastric band fitted is really a last resort and should only be considered when other options have been explored. If a person goes to their doctor and asks for a gastric band to be fitted, the doctor would, in the vast majority of cases, encourage the patient to try a change of diet along with gentle exercise before going down the surgery route. 2815

However, having a gastric band fitted is not a cure for being obese. The device effectively reduces the size of the stomach to a very small percentage of its original size. In most cases, this means it will only hold a few teaspoons worth of food before the person starts to feel full. It becomes impossible for the patient to overeat because the stomach simply cannot accommodate large volumes of food. If the patient tries to overeat, they will usually vomit. 2816

So an obese patient who as a gastric band fitted will normally lose a lot of weight over a short period of time, simply because they are unable to consume their usual quantities of food. The intention is that the band will help the patient to re-train themselves and help them change their eating habits. 2817

Over time, the band can be adjusted and eventually removed at which time the patient can start to eat normally and hopefully continue a normal and healthy diet. The problem is that many people find it all too easy to slip back into their old habits and they start to overeat again. They may lack the commitment required to stay on a healthy diet, or they have the mindset that they can always resort to the gastric band again, should they need it. 2818

A gastric band can also have other risks, such as becoming infected or even becoming detached. The risks must be taken into account before deciding to go ahead with the operation. 2819

So for an obese person who has tried alternative methods to lose weight, then having a gastric band can be a temporary solution. It can make the person feel better when they look at themselves in the mirror. However, for a longer term solution, a healthy diet and an exercise regime is the only real answer. 2821

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