Since TV presenter Fern Britton announced that gastric band surgery helped her lose five stone, GP’s have reported a sudden increase enquiries about the procedure.
Many patients are now very keen to have the surgery themselves, in a slightly desperate attempt to lose weight. Few people are aware of the serious health implication of such an invasive, and irreversible procedure.
Many of the enquiries for the procedure have been referred to the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where consultant surgeon David Hewin has had many calls regarding the slimming procedure.
David Hewin told the Gloucester Echo;
“Since Fern’s weight loss surgery was been made public earlier this week, I have received more than 20 inquiries – a 400% increase – from people in Gloucestershire asking for more information about gastric band operations. Clearly Fern’s successful weight loss has raised awareness of this type of surgery and the life saving and life-changing results that can be achieved.”
NHS Treatment for Morbidly Obese
Although private treatment can cost in excess of GBP7000.00, the NHS does provide treatment for the morbidly obese, which is defined as having a BMI of over 35 (want to know your BMI? Use our BMI calculator).
In 2006 we looked at the risks of gastric band surgery – a Swiss study showed a 40 per cent complication or failure rate for laparoscopic gastric banding. This news followed Anne Diamond’s botched Belgian gastric banding operation in which the band was incorrectly placed, leading to complications and the requirement for further surgery.
Risks Associated With Gastric Band Surgey
The main problems of gastric band surgery are:
- The wound from the operation can become infected. Antibiotics are given during surgery to help prevent this.
- For up to six weeks after the operation, it is possible to develop a blood clot (DVT) in the veins in the leg. This clot can break off and cause a blockage in the lungs. In most cases this is treatable, but it can be a life-threatening condition. Compression stockings, intermittent compression pumps and blood-thinning injections are used to help prevent DVT.
- There is a risk that during the operation other organs in the abdomen may be accidentally damaged.
- There is a risk that the band may slip out of place, break or erode through the stomach wall. This may require further surgery or removal of the band.
- It is possible you may fail to lose sufficient weight or regain weight, and some patients have further weight loss surgery.
- If you lose weight rapidly, there is a risk of developing gallstones in your gallbladder. These can be painful. Your surgeon may remove your gallbladder during surgery.
- Bit of food can get stuck on your stomach, and take time to become dislodged or digested.
Source: BUPA Fact Sheet
Gastric Band Diet
Post operation diet is also very restrictive. The most important aspect of your eating plan for the first four weeks after band insertion is to make sure all your food is puréed and that you eat it in small quantities. After 4 weeks food does not need to be puréed, but quantity must not increase.
After 6 weeks, slightly more can be eaten, but still you must never eat after feeling full. All drinks should be zero calories, which pretty much means NOTHING but water. Ever.
Often these foods cause problems after gastric band surgery:
- Asparagus – cut up very small or blend into soup
- Pineapple – juice is ok, fruit may be difficult to digest
- Rhubarb – cut up very small or puree
- Broccoli – the stalks may cause problems
- Dried fruits – will swell inside you and should be avoided
- Oranges – juice ok, flesh may cause problems
- Meat – needs to diced finely and chewed thoroughly
- White bread is hard to digest and best avoided. In fact, all refined flours and sugars need to be avoide, which means NO CAKES and NO BISCUITS ever again!
The most important consideration is that gastric band surgery is not a quick fix solution. Patients will have to follow a strict diet and exercise program to ensure that the weight stays off. Gastric band surgery is a very extreme measure to take to lose weight.
A sensible low GI diet will in most cases produce the same results, without the risk to health, the costs and the strict lifetime diet that will follow.
Image by James P Gray, MD