The Food and Drug Administration change the regulation of weight loss surgery.
Patients with a BMI of between 30 and 40 will now be eligible to opt for a gastric band procedure although the surgery will still only be performed if all other avenues of weight loss have been exhausted.
Other patients who can receive the treatment are those suffering from weight-related medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
The gastric band laparoscopy surgery involves placing an adjustable silicone tube around the top section of a stomach which restricts the amount of food a person can eat and the types of food they can digest. Creating a smaller stomach gives the impression of fullness sooner than normal encouraging the recipient to eat less.
Allergan is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of the silicone device and the popularity of the procedure is responsible for $243 million worth of the companies $4.9 billion in 2010 sales. The FDA’s new approach could see these profits increase rapidly.
Originally the FDA recommended that a five foot six inches tall patient would have to weigh 216 pounds or over before they would be eligible to have the band fitted, even if they suffered from diabetes or high blood pressure as a result of their size.
The same patient would only need to weigh 186 pounds under the revised guidelines.
Information released by the FDA show that the procedure and the device are safe to use, however they do stress that the surgery is not for everyone. People who are extremely obese, have had similar surgery in the past or have other medical complications may want to avoid the band. If they do pursue the operation they would not be able to opt for the laparoscopy route and would face the prospect of full open surgery.
Is surgery the easy option for overweight individuals who want to lose a few pounds or a vital tool in the fight against obesity?