Research Shows New Stomach Surgery May Not Be Safe

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By: Radha McLean

A new surgical procedure for weight loss could be more harmful than expected, say researchers. The gastric band, which received FDA approval for testing, had to be removed from a significant number of patients and did not achieve satisfactory weight loss in most of them, according to the report published in the June issue of the Annals of Surgery.

Eric J. DeMaria, MD, of the Medical College of Virginia, and colleagues, studied the effects of laparoscopic adjustable silicone gastric banding (LASGB) on 36 patients over a four-year period. The surgery, which involves inserting a band on the upper part of stomach, leaving a narrow opening from it to the lower stomach, is supposed to help decrease appetite. Of the patients in the test group who underwent the procedure, only four of them achieved satisfactory weight loss (a mass body index of 35 or less, or losing 50 percent of one’s body weight). In addition, 41 percent of the patients had to have the band removed—in most cases, due to complications such as leakage and infections.

“Obviously, we believe that the FDA approval is premature,” said De Maria to Reuters Health. “Although the primary procedure was essentially ‘low-risk’ we do not believe the secondary removal/revision procedures are so. Furthermore, the need for additional surgical treatment to accomplish the desired weight loss result is a significant safety issue, in our minds.”

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