Gastric banding may strike obesity in the long-term, study finds

After 15 years of waiting on weight, a follow-up study evaluating the effectiveness of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (lap banding) has wrapped up with favorable results.

According to the report, a majority of the patients observed maintained an average weight loss of 26 kilograms for more than a decade post lap band procedure. Researchers from the Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, tracked the progress of some 3,226 patients who underwent gastric banding between 1994 and 2011. The average age of a patient participant was 47-years-old, and 78 percent of the subject pool were women.

Of the 714 patients who endured their surgery at least 10 years prior, a rough weight loss of 26 kilograms was maintained. For the 54 patients in the study who had their surgeries at least 15 years prior, the approximate weight loss capped off at a similar level.

"These results show that when you have a significant problem with obesity, a long-term solution is available," said Paul O’ Brien, MD, MBBS, FRACS, leader of the study, in a news release. "This surgery is safe and effective, and it has lasting benefits. Substantial weight loss can change the lives of people who are obese – they can be healthier and live longer."

All patient subjects were faithful to the post-operative treatment regulations regarding consumption and exercise. No deaths associated with the surgery or subsequent surgeries (about half of the patient pool underwent later operations) were documented. One out of every 20 patients had their band removed over the course of the study.

"In treating a chronic disease such as obesity over a lifetime, it is likely that something will need to be corrected at some time in some patients," O'Brien said. "The study shows a marked reduction of revisional procedures with the introduction of the new version of the lap band six years ago. Importantly, those who had revisional surgery lost as much weight in the long term as those who did not need it."

Especially for Australia, O’Brien spoke of the need for a cost-effective alleviant to obesity — a role he believes lap banding fills.

"We have ample evidence that weight-loss surgery is effective, and it is unfair that half of eligible patients cannot be treated, particularly as it has been shown that gastric banding is a highly cost-effective healthcare measure. The stigma of obesity, and the assumption that it is the person's fault, entrenches discrimination against people who could benefit," O’Brien concluded.

Image courtesy of James P Gray Creative Commons licensing.