When the gastric band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, it is connected by soft, thin tubing to what is called an injection port. This port is attached to the abdominal wall just beneath the skin and is used to allow us to modify the volume of fluid that enters the band. Using a special needle, Dr. Lublin will insert or remove saline through the injection port into the band. This process adjusts the tightness of the band. Adjustments will occur approximately every 3 to 4 months for the first two years after surgery, but may be more frequent. They may be more or less frequent depending on how the band feels to the patient and their ability to both eat adequate amounts of food and lose weight. The band adjustment process is very quick – in fact, it only requires about 10 minutes in the office and pain, if any, is minimal and can be compared to a mild bee sting.
Band fills or adjustments are an important part of post gastric banding life. A band adjustment is extremely important because it allows the surgeon to adjust the restriction of the band in order to increase or decrease the rate of weight loss. Remember, it is not always advantageous to have the tightest restriction in the band because quality-of-life issues may crop up. For example, nutritional deficiencies can occur if the band is too tight and the patient is unable to eat the proper portions of food. Further, vomiting and feeling of tightness in the upper stomach and chest can occur if the band is too tight.
Band adjustments may seem like a pain in the neck, but they will help you achieve the greatest and most efficient weight loss without compromising your safety.
The most important part of successful adjustments involves communicating clearly and effectively with your surgeon. Indeed, the only way that your surgeon can truly know whether or not the band is too tight or too loose is by how you describe your feelings before, during and after a meal. Keeping a food journal or logbook of your eating habits and how you feel immediately after eating can be very helpful in allowing us to understand how the band is performing.