Gastric Band Fills / Adjustments
Band fills, also known as band adjustments, are a critical part of a gastric band patient’s aftercare program. The band is the only major bariatric surgery procedure that is adjustable and band fills play an important role in making sure that the patient loses weight effectively and safely.
A band fill is a simple procedure performed in our office and only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. During surgery, we will have attached an injection port to the abdominal wall, just underneath the skin. This injection port is connected to the band via soft thin tubing. The purpose of the injection port is to act as a pathway for saline to be injected or removed from the band – thus tightening or loosening it respectively.
Shortly after surgery, gastric banding patients will come in for a series of post-operative checkups. During these follow-up appointments, we will evaluate the tightness of the band to ensure that it is neither too tight nor too loose. The evaluation process involves speaking to the patient about how they feel after they eat as well as understanding the amount of food they are consuming. Checking their weight and blood levels for nutritional deficiencies may also lead us to understand if they are any issues with the band. Pain or discomfort is, of course, another consideration.
Many patients are concerned about the pain associated with a band adjustment. We want to assure all our banding patients that their adjustments will not be very painful. The pain can be equated to a mild bee sting or a flu shot.
After the first year post-surgery, adjustments will become less frequent because we will likely have found the “sweet spot” that allows for maximum weight loss without nutritional deficiency. While band fills can be a nuisance in the weeks and months after surgery, they do serve a very important role in ensuring that a patient reaches their goals as quickly and safely as possible.