New research on weight-loss surgery suggests that gastric bypass surgery may offer better weight loss and other advantages over banding surgery. While surgeons in Europe tend to favor the banding procedure that involves placing a plastic band around the stomach to reduce its size, American surgeons tend to favor gastric bypass, where a piece of intestine is connected to the stomach, causing most of the swallowed food to miss the stomach. Banding appears to be less invasive to the patient and easier for the surgeon to perform. However, long-term consequences may include slippage or erosion of the band. A recent study from the University Hospital Zurich compared outcomes of 103 patients who underwent gastric banding to 103 patients who underwent gastric bypass. Within 30 days post-surgery, 21 bypass patients and 18 banding patients experienced complications. Long-term results, however, showed that 45% of banding patients experienced problems, compared with only 14% of bypass patients. Further, repeat operations were necessary 3 times as often in the banding group, and the second operation often required a gastric bypass. Besides fewer complications, gastric bypass also yielded greater weight loss than banding, as well as improved diabetes and high blood pressure.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.