Overview of the REALIZE™ Gastric Band

The REALIZE™ Adjustable Gastric Band (REALIZE Band) is one of several options in the growing field of weight loss surgery. It is a surgically implanted medical device that helps patients lose weight and improve health. It is one of only two laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding(LAGB) systems currently approved for use in the United States. The system consists of a silicone band, tubing, and injection port. It is indicated for use in the surgical treatment of morbid obesity.

REALIZE Adjustable Gastric Band-C
The newest generation REALIZE Adjustable Gastric Band-C offers a streamlined design with an expanded adjustment range. It shares the same clinically proven high-volume, low-pressure design as the original REALIZE Band. (Photo provided by REALIZE)

How it Works

The REALIZE band is a restrictive type of bariatric surgery that reduces food intake by narrowing the opening to the stomach using a medical device. With this procedure all body organs remain intact and unaltered, it does not involve cutting the stomach and intestines or rerouting the digestive system, as in gastric bypass procedures.

During surgery, the gastric band is placed around the upper part of the stomach and the injection port is placed under the skin on the abdominal wall. The gastric band accomplishes two purposes.

  • It creates a smaller stomach pouch that can hold only a small amount of food, reducing the amount of food that can be eaten at any one time.
  • It makes the opening between the new stomach pouch and the main portion of the stomach smaller, which slows the movement of food through the digestive system. By slowing digestion, a person feels full sooner and for a longer period of time.

The size of the stomach opening can be made smaller or larger by adjusting the band to control the rate at which food passes through the stomach. The adjustments are made by adding or removing fluid from the band through an injection port which is connected to the band with tubing during a doctor's office visit.

About the REALIZE Band

The REALIZE Band is a clinically proven weight loss tool, supported by more than 20 years of worldwide use. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2007, but has been used since 1986 outside the United States, where it is known as the Swedish Adjustable Gastric Band (SAGB).

The SAGB is the original soft, low-pressure balloon design. It was patented in 1985 by Obtech Medical of Switzerland, making it the first gastric band to be patented worldwide. In 2002, Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., an operating company of Johnson & Johnson, purchased Obtech Medical and the SAGB patent. They are now marketing the gastric band in the United States as the REALIZE Band.

The REALIZE Band is placed into the body through minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. Originally, the gastric band was implanted using open surgery, since laparoscopic surgery was not common at the time. As laparoscopic techniques developed, surgeons began to implant the SAGB laparoscopically, which has been done successfully since 1994.

Based on the proven performance of the SAGB, the REALIZE Band continues to feature a high-volume, low-pressure gastric band design. Ongoing innovation has led to improvements in the original band system, including changes to the gastric band locking mechanism and port technology. REALIZE states they continue to innovate with a focus on patient safety and comfort in mind.

The features of the REALIZE Band system include:

  • A high-volume/low-pressure gastric band; made with a strong, flexible silicone structure and a wide and soft inner balloon; has a 360 degree balloon coverage
  • Connective tubing with tubing protection at the connector site
  • Low-profile (1/2") access port to minimize bulge under the skin
  • Sutureless port placement for stronger attachment, quicker placement, and less surgical pain

In 2009, the latest version of the REALIZE Band was introduced, referred to as the REALIZE Band-C. The REALIZE Band-C features the same technology as the REALIZE Band, but offers a streamlined, pre-curved design for easier placement and an expanded adjustment range to accommodate larger patients. At 23mm, it is the widest band available, which decreases the potential for slippage. With radiopaque band and tubing, visualization under fluoroscopy is enhanced.

Benefits of the REALIZE Band

REALIZE Adjustable Gastric Band-C
The REALIZE Adjustable Gastric Band-C is the widest band available (23mm), which decreases the potential for slippage. (Photo provided by REALIZE)

The potential benefits of using the REALIZE band include weight loss and improvement in obesity-related health conditions. In the US study, at three years after having the REALIZE Band implanted, the average weight loss was 42% of a person's excess weight, 35% of the patients lost 50% or more of excess weight, and 10% of the patients lost 75% or more of excess weight.

Weight loss occurs at an average rate of 1-2 pounds per week, which is considered a healthy rate and lessens the possibility of nutritional deficiencies. Gastric banding is a tool to help with weight loss, but ultimately weight loss depends on following the dietary guidelines and exercise program as recommended by a patient's doctor.

Cost of REALIZE Band Surgery

The cost for gastric banding surgery in the United States typically ranges from $12,000 to $25,000. This amount covers the cost of the medical facility, bariatric surgeon, and associated surgical costs (such as anesthesia). Other cost factors to consider include follow-up care and appointments for fills or adjustments to the gastric band.

The REALIZE Band cost is often covered by health plans that provide weight loss surgery insurance. Patients without such health insurance benefits may want to consider a patient financing program.

Patient Eligibility for Gastric Banding

Gastric banding is used to facilitate weight loss in severely obese adults who have been obese for at least five years and have not been able to lose weight through non-surgical weight loss methods, such as supervised diet, exercise and behavior modification programs. The patient must fully understand the lifelong changes required and be willing to make the necessary changes in their eating habits and lifestyle. Patient eligibility for gastric banding is determined by a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40, or a BMI of at least 35 with one or more severe health conditions associated with obesity, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and severe sleep apnea.

More details about the REALIZE Band bariatric surgery can be found in our side-by-side LAP-BAND System vs. REALIZE Band comparison chart.