What to Expect From Gastric Banding
Gastric banding surgery is intended to help people who are at least 100 pounds overweight lose weight. But can you expect to lose all of your unwanted weight after having weight loss surgery?
While your goal may be to lose enough weight for your body to look a certain way, the medical goal of weight loss surgery is to eliminate, mitigate, or prevent the health complications associated with obesity. The weight loss goals that your surgeon and medical support staff help you set will most likely be based on how much weight you need to lose in order to resolve problems you might have with diabetes, high blood pressure, acid reflux, asthma, or chronic pain.
How much weight do you need to lose?
Before setting your target weight loss goals, your physician will help you calculate how much excess weight you have. Your excess weight is determined by figuring out how much weight you need to lose in order to have a BMI of 25. Anything between 18 and 25 is considered a normal BMI, so any weight that puts you outside of that normal range is considered excess. Again, while you may ideally like to lose enough weight to have a BMI that’s lower than this upper limit, achieving a BMI of 25 should resolve any medical complications associated with obesity. When your physician refers to your “excess weight” or the “percentage of excess weight lost,” understand that they are talking about the pounds that stand between you and a BMI of 25.
It’s common for your physician to set an initial goal of losing two-thirds of your excess weight. However, while this is considered ideal, the average weight loss for gastric banding patients is between 50 and 60 percent of excess weight. You may, of course, lose more or less than the average. It’s important to understand that even a 25 percent loss of excess weight can significantly improve your health and emotional well-being.
If your results are above average and you do lose 66 percent (or roughly two-thirds) of your excess weight, the next goal is to reach a BMI of 27. People with a BMI of 27 are generally believed to be safe from the risks of obesity-related diseases. If you reach a BMI of 27, the final goal would be to lose enough weight to reach a BMI of 25, putting you within the normal weight range. The younger you are, the more likely you are to reach this final goal. But remember, losing those final pounds carries more cosmetic rewards than health benefits. Even if you maintain an average weight loss of 50 to 60 percent, you should enjoy dramatic improvements in your health and quality of life as a result of your weight loss.
How quickly will you lose weight?
If you have BMI of around 45 or less before surgery, you should expect to lose half of your excess weight in one year. After 18 months, you should expect to have lost a full two-thirds of your excess weight. The average rate of loss is 2.2 pounds per week in the first 6 months after surgery, and 1.1 pounds per week over the next year.
If you have a higher BMI, you may find that you lose more than 1 to 2 pounds per week after surgery. For example, a patient with a starting BMI of 70 or 80 may expect to lose as many as 4 pounds per week initially. It may take you as long as three years to lose two-thirds of your excess weight. If, however, you have a BMI that is below average for bariatric patients, you may lose less weight each week, but reach the two-thirds threshold much sooner.
Remember that any goals associated with how much weight you lose or how quickly you lose it should be based on your current weight. It’s helpful to think in terms of percentages or BMI instead of number of pounds as you work with your physician to set safe, realistic weight loss goals for yourself.