On Friday, an FDA panel voted to approve the use of the Allergan's popular Lap-Band device to be used in surgeries with less obese adults. The device shrinks the stomach so obese patients can more easily cut back on their eating and lose the weight, that may be threatening their lives.
Previously, the FDA had approved the device to treat adults with a BMI of at least 40 or at least 35 plus another health problem. The FDA advisory panel voted Friday to decrease the minimum BMI to 35 or higher or at least 30 plus another health problem. A BMI of 30 is considered obese.
Dr. Kai Nishi, a bariatric surgeon from the Khalili Center for Bariatric Care in Beverly Hills, says that those with a BMI of 30-35 are in danger of serious health conditions. "There was nothing magical about the BMI of 35 cutoff. Patient's with a BMI of 30-35 still have medical problems related to their weight such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, etc. and therefore stand to benefit from weight loss after gastric banding just as much as a patient that has a BMI of 40."
Gastric banding is for patients who are morbidly obese or are overweight with health troubles caused by their weight. "The ideal candidate for the Lap-Band, or adjustable gastric banding procedure, is someone who is highly motivated to change their lifestyle, who is more of a volume eater rather than a sweet eater, and who can exercise without any restrictions," says Dr. Nishi. "People with esophageal dysfunction, large hiatal hernias, severe gastroesophageal reflux, gastroparesis, may not be candidates for gastric banding."
The adjustable gastric band is often preferred over gastric bypass because it greatly lowers the risk to the patient. Dr. Nishi says that it is the safest weight loss surgery in terms of having the lowest risk of death. Also, the banding isn't permanent and can be adjusted, and doesn't cause the trouble with digestion that gastric bypass can.
Dr. Nishi stresses that no weight loss surgery is a quick fix. He says, "Patients must eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, have a well adjusted band, and follow up routinely with their surgeon in order to be successful."