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Health Team

Beating Belly Bulge With Gastric Banding Surgery

Posted March 12, 2008

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— Healthy eating and exercise are usually enough for most people lose weight, but others need more help.

“I could lose 20 pounds, and that was about it, and then gain it back,” Heather Griffin said.

To avoid future health problems, Griffin considered gastric bypass surgery.  It involves surgically creating a small pouch for a stomach and rerouting the digestive tract.

“It was so drastic of a change that I wasn't sure that I could handle that and take care of my children as well,” Griffin said.

So she chose a less invasive option called gastric banding.

“What we like to do is try to create a pouch out of the top portion of the stomach and that's where the band will reside,” said Dr. Kenneth Mitchell.

Griffin is the first in the state to get a a newer gastric band version, Realize Band. Mitchell has used the older Lap Band device. Both include a port just under the skin, where a syringe can adjust the saline-filled band.

“You'll notice how this gets bigger and how that gets smaller,” Mitchell said as he demonstrated the band.

The Realize Band is broader than the Lap Band and allows food to pass from the pouch to the stomach more gradually, making you feel fuller longer.

Griffin expects to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, but it will require work on her part.

“I have to be very conscious about when I eat, what I eat and how much I'm drinking,” she said.

How much she exercises is also important.

“These aren't cures ... We want our patients to look at this as an opportunity,” Mitchell said.

A recent study showed gastric banding actually resolved Type 2 diabetes in almost 3 out of 4 patients.

The criteria for gastric bypass weight-loss surgery are a body mass index greater than 35 for four of the last five years, along with health concerns like diabetes or heart problems that might improve with weight loss.

If a person's body mass index is greater than 40,  a person qualifies for gastric bypass surgery even without other health concerns.

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