Obesity Surgery Conference Updates

In November 2010, Trudy Williams attended the Obesity Surgery Society of Australia & New Zealand Conference in Tasmania and these are a few snippets from the 3-day event. Information from 2011, 2012 and 2013 conferences has been added to the main text throughout this site.

  1. The great news is that gastric banding and lap banding continues to show its value in not only helping people who are massively overweight to lose weight, but to also keep it off in the long-term. It estimated that there are more than 500,000 people world-wide have a gastric band. If you’ve got a gastric band, you are part of quite an exclusive world-wide group!
  2. The best short and long-term results are seen in people who return very regularly for follow-up, and that’s not necessarily to have the band adjusted! Support, encouragement and feedback are hugely motivating.
  3. If the band is not working for you as well as you want, then the most consistent and best advice from the conference was to get back to your support team whether it be:
    • To your surgeon for an adjustment checkup – your band may be too tight, not just too loose
    • To your dietitian – your food choices may need a little tweaking to maximise your results without dieting
    • To a psychologist for a mind workout – stomach hunger is not the only thing that drives one to eat and drink
    • To your exercise trainer – an active body leads to a healthy mind, and better body shape long term
  4. A powerful speaker from the UK, Dr Carel le Roux, recommended that weight loss should not be the focus of gastric banding. He doesn’t weigh his clients when they come for a check-up, but rather he focuses on improvements in other health and life factors such as blood pressure, blood glucose, and fitness. He gets his clients to climb the stairs with him to show many they can make with ease.
    • How would you feel if your team didn’t weigh you and we discouraged you from weighing at home?
    • How would you feel if your ability to climb stairs was the measure of your surgery’s success?
  5. Some research presented suggests that every single swallow that you take with the band in place is equal to four swallows without a band (on average). When you swallow, the food passes down the food pipe towards the gastric band. When it reaches the band it bounces back up a little way into your food pipe. Up and down. Up and down. Every bounce is like a fresh swallow. So your single swallow is like me taking 4 swallows. When the food bounces, it passes the vagal nerves. These have a role in telling your brain that you’ve had enough to eat. So what? This bouncing helps explain what you have probably felt already. When you rush your food and swallow several bites too quickly, they are like super-balls of food that collide and you may feel discomfort. If you slow the pace down and allow the ‘bounce’ to happen, then your brain connects with the nerve signal to tell you, before discomfort, that you’ve had enough to eat. This works with solid firm foods but not liquids because liquids flow past the band and meet no resistance from the banded stomach, so they don’t have a barrier to bounce against.
  6. Would you use a dental device to help you lose weight? A device by Scientific Intake is still being tested to prove it’s value – a concept device has been around since at least 2004. The device is placed on the roof of the mouth. It makes the capacity of your mouth smaller so you take smaller bites, making it a speed limiter for the mouth. Early research results suggest that the more often people wear their device, the more weight they lose. It is tailored to fit your mouth just like a denture is and you put it in at meal times. And there-in lies a major problem! You get to choose whether you want it in or out and chances are that you’ll leave it out more often than not because it stops you speaking normally, and you can’t enjoy your food or taste it very well. Although the device is already available, its success and value has not been fully proven yet so I wouldn’t rush out and buy one, but it’s interesting to see what researchers are checking out.