Monday, April 14, 2008

The Realize Band a new alternative to Lap Band and gastric bypass surgery

Birmingham, AL
Dr. Lee A. Schmitt, a surgeon at St. Vincent's East, last week began using the Realize Band, a new medical device that offers patients another option for weight-loss surgery.

The Realize Band was approved in December by the FDA as an alternative to the popular Lap-Band.

Both stomach bands have been shown to be effective in helping patients lose weight. They are wrapped around the stomach and squeeze down its size, thus restricting food intake. The devices can be adjusted for tightness by pumping fluid through a port.

Another type of weight-loss operation, commonly called a gastric bypass, requires more extensive surgical remodeling of the stomach and intestine.

Schmitt is one of Alabama's busiest weight-loss surgeons and puts about 100 stomach bands a year in patients. He said the new Realize Band is slightly different from the Lap-Band, and had three patients scheduled last week for the new band.

"I don't know which band is going to be better," he said. "I think it's like a pickup truck. What's better, a Ford or a Chevy? Both of them have little differences. Both of them carry you from A to B, and you can carry a ton of stuff in the back."

The new band is wider, which could keep it from slipping out of place. Slippage occurs in only about 2 percent of his cases, said Schmitt.

The most common complication with a stomach band involves the port that is just under the skin's surface and attached to the abdominal wall. Doctors use a needle to pump a saline solution into this port, which adjusts the stomach band.

Schmitt said sometimes the port comes loose, flips around and can't be accessed. The Realize Band has a different way of attaching the port. It's quicker to put in, and may secure enough to prevent complications, Schmitt said.

The Realize Band also exerts a slightly lower pressure on the stomach, which may reduce a rare complication called erosion. This occurs when the band erodes into the stomach.

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