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Stop abusing the gastric band

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First I was alarmed and then I was annoyed. These were my reactions today when reading an article in the Mail Online talking about a lady from Wales who nearly lost her life because of her gastric band. The headline even referred to the gastric band.

Then when reading the article it transpired that the lady in question had not had a gastric band at all.

This poor lady experienced a rare complication following gastric bypass surgery. Essentially her bowel became obstructed because of scar tissue that grew around the bowel. She was successfully treated for this in an NHS hospital and it sounds as though the NHS did a great job for her.

This was yet another alarmist headline about the gastric band though when, in fact, this patient never even had a band. What’s more, the complication she experienced is not one that is associated with gastric banding. The bypass involves cutting of the bowel whereas the band procedure does not.

As a defender of the gastric band, it's annoying to hear it disparaged in this way. One of the main reasons for choosing the gastric band over the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass, is because it's safer and the complications are easier to manage. This is because neither the stomach or the bowel are cut.

So, yes, let’s report on patient’s experiences but let’s do so in a way that doesn’t mislead people about the pros and cons of the procedures available.

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