Wonderful Things: Gastric Band

We’ve all seen those celebrities who’ve been household names for decades, who appear to be comfortable in their non- size-zero bodies. Then, lo and behold, one day, they appear with new sleek, svelte figures.

 How do they do it? Simple: a bit of prosthetic surgery and hey presto, goodbye spare tyre! I am of course, talking about gastric banding which has been in use since the mid 1980s.

A gastric band helps reduce the amount of food you eat. It simply acts like a belt around the top portion of your stomach, creating a small pouch. It restricts the amount of food that can fit into your stomach, meaning that you feel full after eating a small amount of food, resulting in weight loss.

Gastric band on model stomach

Fancy a tummy squeeze? Gastric band on model stomach

According to The British Obesity Surgery Patient Association, on average, people lose between 50–65% of their excess weight in the two years after placement of a gastric band. Long before they reach that stage, they start to feel the benefits, especially if they also have any of the obesity–related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure. They also have a much greater capacity for physical activity and more self–confidence; not like this gentleman in the public health poster below!

Heavy hitting - a public health poster

Heavy hitting - late 20th century public health poster

Having a gastric band is regarded as major surgery as patients undergo a general anesthetic. This presents some very real risks, side-effects and complications. Each operation costs the NHS around £8,000, but only those who fit specific criteria qualify to receive the surgery.

Is gastric banding an easy way to lose weight without having to diet or exercise as much? 

Would knowing someone who has had a gastric band change your perception/opinion of them? 

Is obesity a problem that humans inflict on themselves?

Should the NHS (and taxpayers) pay for gastric band surgery for very obese patients? What about if someone just wants to lose a few pounds? 

The gastric band is in the Who am I? gallery on the 1st floor of the Wellcome Wing.

-Denise Cook

 

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