Gastric banding is a form of weight-loss (bariatric) surgery. It’s used to treat people with severe obesity who haven’t been able to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. It’s most often done in adults. But in some cases it may be a treatment choice for a teen.
A gastric band is a soft, rubbery circle made of silicone. The band is attached to a thin, flexible tube (catheter). The tube is connected to a small, round port. During surgery, the band is put around the stomach, near the top. The port is put under the skin below the rib cage. Saline solution is injected with a needle and syringe into the port and goes through the tube to fill the band. The fluid makes the band expand and squeeze tighter. A healthcare provider can control the size of the band by adding or removing saline through the port.
When saline is added, the band tightens around the top of the stomach. This creates a small pouch where food goes during a meal. The food then slowly moves down into the rest of the stomach and is digested over time. The pouch is smaller than a whole stomach. So it makes a person full more quickly. It limits the amount of food he or she can eat.
After surgery, the band may need to be adjusted. This requires regular follow-up visits to a healthcare provider and injection or removal of saline through the skin into the port. At some point years after surgery, the band will likely need to be replaced. This is done with another surgery.
Gastric bands are not yet approved by the FDA for use on anyone age 18 or younger. The surgery can still be done. But there is not enough research yet on how it may help or harm teens. Some studies suggest that weight-loss surgery may improve the health of obese teens. A teen may be able to bypass health problems linked to obesity. These include type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The surgery may also help lessen social problems, such as being bullied. But experts are not sure about the long-term results of gastric banding for a teen’s developing body.
Because the long-term results of weight-loss surgery for teens are not yet known, a healthcare provider will recommend the surgery only in special cases. A healthcare provider may advise surgery for a teen who has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 to 50 or more. Or surgery may be advised for a teen with a BMI of 35 to 40 or more and other health problems such as type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea. Surgery is considered if a teen has tried other ways to lose weight with no success.
Deciding whether your teen should have gastric banding surgery is complicated. Work with your child’s healthcare providers, talk with your teen, and spend time learning about the surgery and life after surgery. Together you can all figure out if surgery is the right choice for your teen.
Like all kinds of surgery, weight-loss surgery has risks. The risks of gastric banding include:
After surgery, the risks include:
Before having this surgery, your child should:
A teen should not have the surgery if he or she has any of the following:
A gastric banding procedure is a major life change. Your teen will likely be asked to take classes to get ready for life after the surgery. He or she will learn new ways of eating and drinking, and will need to commit to those changes to make the surgery a success.
After surgery, the small pouch at the top of the stomach fills up quickly. Your child will only be able to eat small amounts of food. Eating too much can lead to vomiting and other problems. Your teen will also need to take daily vitamin and mineral supplements. These are things that some children may not want to do, or may not remember to do.
Talk with your teen about all the changes that the surgery will mean. You can also ask your child’s healthcare provider about local weight-loss surgery support groups. These can help your teen meet others who have had the surgery, and ask questions about what it’s like before making a decision. You may also want to contact a dietitian who can work with your child before and after surgery.
To get ready for the procedure, your teen will need to:
Your child will also need to:
A gastric banding surgery takes about 30 minutes to 60 minutes. It follows this general process:
After the surgery, your teen is taken to a recovery room. He or she is watched by a healthcare provider, and then sent to a hospital room.
Your child will likely stay in the hospital overnight. He or she will feel some pain and discomfort after surgery. This is normal. It is treated with pain medicine. The healthcare team may also have your teen up and walking a few hours after surgery. This will help your child recover faster.
On the day after surgery, your teen will likely have an X-ray. It makes sure that the gastric band is working normally. He or she may be asked to swallow a liquid that can be seen on the X-ray.
When it’s time for your child to go home, you’ll be given instructions for how to care for your child’s incisions, and when to call the healthcare team.
After recovering from the surgery, your teen will need to:
Before you agree to the test or the procedure for your child make sure you know:
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