- HEALTH TRACKER
The REALIZE® Adjustable Gastric Band has been shown to be an effective tool to help patients lose weight. However, having the REALIZE Band does not guarantee that patients will achieve their weight loss goals. Losing weight and keeping it off in the long-term requires a commitment to adopt new, lifelong habits. This includes making healthier food choices, eating small portions, exercising regularly, having a strong support system in place, and following up with the surgeon for regular visits and band adjustments.
With the REALIZE Band, the following activities are critical to achieving and maintaining a healthier weight.
Levels of saline in the REALIZE Band can be adjusted and tailored to individual needs. The goal is to allow patients to lose weight at a healthy rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week. For example, if weight loss levels off, saline can be added through the injection port to assist with weight loss. If the patient feels that there is too much restriction and has trouble eating, the level of saline can be reduced. Adjustments are simple procedures that take 5 to 10 minutes in a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital, and do not require surgery.
During an adjustment, saline is added to or removed from the band through the injection port. Saline travels from the port through the soft tubing to the band. When saline is added, this is commonly referred to as a “fill.” Fills tighten the band to increase the restriction between the upper and lower stomach pouches, making food empty from the upper stomach more slowly. After a fill, patients usually feel full sooner and stay satisfied longer.
Over time, patients will learn to identify signs that indicate a fill may be needed. ”When I need an adjustment, I can eat larger amounts of food and tend to get hungrier than usual in between meals,” says Hope Overstreet, a REALIZE Band patient.
Eating and drinking in a new way means making healthy food choices, eating smaller portions, drinking plenty of water (about 64 ounces a day), taking very small bites, and chewing each bite thoroughly. Food that is not properly chewed may block the stoma (the opening between the upper and lower stomach pouches), or may end up being regurgitated. At each meal (typically three per day), patients should eat about ½ cup of food.
Drinking habits will also change. Patients are discouraged from drinking during meals. In fact, band patients should not drink anything 15 to 30 minutes before a meal or 30 to 60 minutes after a meal. Liquid causes food to empty from the upper stomach too quickly. Keeping food in the stomach longer helps patients feel full longer. Patients should always follow the guidelines provided by their bariatric team.
The REALIZE Band helps patients eat less, but it does not eliminate the desire to eat. “Dietitians like to tell their patients that the doctor operates on your belly, not your brain. So, if you are an emotional eater, or if you tend to graze all evening, that doesn't get fixed with surgery. It's important to pinpoint those areas and get some strategies in place," says registered dietitian Beth Taschuk.
An exercise plan is a necessity for gastric band patients who wish to maximize the amount of weight they lose. Exercising regularly, about 30 minutes a day, helps patients lose weight and maintain it over time. One study showed that patients who did not increase their exercise levels after surgery are less likely to lose more than 50% of their excess body weight.10 In addition to increasing the likelihood of losing weight, regular exercise and strength building exercises can help burn calories, build muscle, and lessen skin sag after weight loss.
Talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Bariatric surgeons who frequently perform weight loss surgery often say that ongoing support after surgery helps produce the greatest level of success for their patients. Support can come in many forms: friends, family, co-workers, bariatric support groups, bariatric surgeons, and the staff at the bariatric clinic.
Friends and family who can offer encouragement, celebrate achievements, and provide support are important to long-term success. Support groups are another form of assistance. They provide an opportunity for patients to discuss their personal and professional issues. Through these groups, patients often learn that bariatric surgery will not immediately resolve emotional issues or heal emotional damage that morbid obesity may have caused.
Additional support for REALIZE Band patients
REALIZE Band patients have an additional component in their support system: the REALIZE mySUCCESS® Program. This Web-based clinical support tool was developed in conjunction with bariatric surgeons, dietitians, and behavior modification specialists to help patients build and reinforce habits that are important to maintaining weight loss over time.
REALIZE mySUCCESS® is designed to meet the specific needs of REALIZE Band patients, such as helping patients progress from a liquid diet to solid foods, finding the right band fit, and keeping patients and surgeons connected, so that surgeons can provide patients with personal guidance when necessary. This type of support is important because it can help patients lose more weight. According to a recent 12-month study, REALIZE Band patients who frequently use REALIZE mySUCCESS® lose significantly more weight in the first year after surgery.*
A select set of REALIZE mySUCCESS® features is available to anyone before surgery. After surgery, the full features and tools are available only to REALIZE Band patients.
Learn more about ongoing support after surgery.
For many bariatric patients, staying motivated is a challenge, especially when a plateau is reached or when physical results are not as obvious. Setting obtainable, realistic goals, including non-weight-related goals, can be helpful. Goals can include walking 2 miles, reducing blood pressure or cholesterol, or making a better food choice at the next meal. Patients should consider rewarding themselves when a small goal is achieved. Setting manageable goals provides motivation and makes it easier to track progress.
Follow-up appointments with the bariatric team
After the first year following surgery, it is highly recommended that REALIZE Band patients follow up with their bariatric team once a year—more often to accommodate band adjustments. One study showed that only 40% of patients returned for each annual, recommended postoperative visit in the first 4 years.11 Patients who returned for annual follow-up visits lost significantly more weight than those who did not. Patients who did not follow up gained weight between the first and third year after surgery.11
© Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. 2009 DSL#09-1077
*Patients who frequently use REALIZE mySUCCESS® lose significantly more weight. Based on 12 months of patient-reported data from REALIZE Band patients using REALIZE mySUCCESS®. Frequent users were in the top third of patients based on frequency of entering a weight into REALIZE mySUCCESS®. Source: Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. data on file.
This information is provided by Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. Ethicon Endo-Surgery is not responsible for any other content on this Web site. The REALIZE® Adjustable Gastric Band is used in morbidly obese adult patients for significant long-term weight loss. It may not be right for individuals with certain digestive tract conditions. All surgery presents risks. Weight, age, and medical history determine your specific risks. Ask your doctor if bariatric surgery is right for you.
For more information, visit the official site for the REALIZE® Adjustable Gastric Band, www.REALIZE.com, or call 1-866-REALIZE.
10 Chevallier JM, Paita, M, et al. Predictive Factors of outcome after gastric banding: a nationwide survey on the role of center activity and patients' behavior. Annals of Surgery. 2007; 246(6):1034-1039.
11 Gould J, Beverstein G, et al. Impact of routine and long-term follow-up on weight loss after laparoscopic gastric bypass. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2007; 3(6): 627-630.