Weighing the Risks
More than ever, obese patients are turning to gastric bypass surgery. The results can be striking, but it's not a slam-dunk
In the meantime, some obese patients are opting for a newer, safer route to thinness: gastric banding. The band works like a rubber band, tying off a small section of the stomach. It is inserted through small incisions in the abdomen, and there is no cutting, stapling, or intestinal rerouting, reducing the risk of complications. The band can be adjusted by a saline injection through a port in the abdomen under the skin and is removable. The band is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration for teenagers, but doctors believe that it may be the diet of the future. "Weight loss is much slower than with gastric bypass, but after five years the results are about the same," says Curry.
Ultimately, most doctors believe that curing obesity will be a combination of pills and devices like gastric bands. In the meantime, bypass and banding may be the only solutions for a population that desperately needs to tighten its belt.