Gastric Band

Band Surgery (Lap Band)

What is a gastric band?

Gastric band surgery, also known as gastric banding or lap banding, is known as restrictive weight loss surgery as it limits the amount of food you can eat at one time. After the surgery, you will feel fuller sooner and stay satisfied for longer, which in turn decreases your food and calorie intake.

It is a weight loss surgery option that helps overweight and obese people to change their eating habits and lose weight and improve overall health.

A gastric band is a soft and adjustable silicone band that is placed around the top of the stomach making an egg timer shape. This causes food passage restriction. 

Benefits of a gastric band

A gastric band is considered to be the safest weight loss surgery. It's a relatively simple low risk, minimally invasive procedure with few complications.

Gastric band surgery usually results in a shorter hospital stay (just one night), a faster recovery time (approximately one week), smaller scars and less pain than other gastric surgery procedures.

A gastric band involves no permanent alternation to your body such as removing part of your stomach or re-routing and stapling your body. It is completely reversible and can be removed if desired. 

How does a gastric band work?

A gastric band works by reducing your hunger so that you don’t need to eat large portions to be satisfied.

By placing an adjustable band around the upper part of your stomach, sensors are irritated which send a message to your brain to tell you that you are no longer hungry. It will only work if you eat normal foods because the sensors need pressure from bulky foods. They won’t work if you eat mashed foods and liquids. Band adjustments are needed to tighten or loosen the band to maintain pressure.

The benefits of a gastric band are that it helps you to accomplish long-term weight loss if you are committed to keeping to a new healthier lifestyle and gastric band diet. If you have obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes these should also improve with your weight loss.

How much does a gastric band cost?

The typical cost of gastric band surgery is between £5000 and £8000 in the UK with prices at Ramsay Health Care UK starting from a guide price of £6,630. Our package includes 24 months aftercare that comprises of appointments with specialist bariatric nurses, specialist dieticians and medical reviews as required. Band adjustments are included in the package. Payment plans are available to fund your treatment.

Is a gastric band right for me?

So, who can have a gastric band? You may be eligible if:

  • Your BMI (body mass index) score is 40 or more
  • Your BMI is 35 or more and you have other medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure that may be improved by losing weight.
  • You are fit enough to have a general anaesthetic and surgery.
  • You are committed to losing weight and maintaining your weight loss through lifestyle and diet changes.
  • You are prepared to attend regular follow-up and band-adjustment appointments.

Typically, you’ll also need to demonstrate that you have tried to lose weight in other ways such as eating healthily, exercising and taking relevant medicines, for at least six months and this hasn’t worked.

A gastric band may be best suited to you if you want the safest weight loss surgery with the lowest risk and serious complications and a fast recovery. A gastric band is the least invasive gastric surgery and can offer a reversible change to your stomach size that can help you to modify your diet and lifestyle forever.

What happens during a gastric band operation?

Before surgery you’ll be given a general anaesthetic, the procedure is performed using laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery and usually takes an hour.

Your weight loss surgeon will make several small cuts in your stomach and insert a long, thin telescope with a light and camera lens at one end, called a laparoscope, through the cuts so that they can see inside.

Your surgeon will place the gastric band around the top part of your stomach to create a small upper pouch. The band is kept in place by folding some of your lower stomach over the band and stitching it to your upper stomach pouch.

Your gastric band is connected to an injection port just under your skin via a thin piece of tubing. Your surgeon will inflate the band with sterile fluid after your operation. The injection port allows your surgeon to inflate or deflate your band and adjust the size of the opening from your upper to your lower pouch and this will control how quickly your pouch empties.

Your surgeon will then close the cuts, usually with disposable stitches under your skin.

Aftercare and recovery

After gastric band surgery you’ll stay overnight in hospital.

You’ll only be able to have fluids in the first few weeks. You will then progress onto soft pureed food before recommencing solid food.

Your weight loss surgeon or a dietitian will discuss your diet and the exercise changes you should make for a healthier lifestyle and to help you to reach your weight loss goals. Their diet plan will include recommendations regarding your food choices and the quantities you should be consuming, this includes eating smaller meals, because your new stomach can hold only about a quarter-cup to a full cup of food at a time.

It's important to 'listen to your band' and how you feel when you eat different foods at different times. Your surgeon or registered dietitian will support you with any problems you experience and offer advice and tips on how to tweak your diet and eating habits.

You may need pain relief and you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

You will need to attend follow up appointments including gastric band adjustments, gastric bands need to be adjusted on average of four to six times in the first year after surgery. It often takes several adjustments to find the right level of restriction. Your stomach needs to heal from surgery before the first fill so this won't be until six weeks after surgery. In addition to your regular hospital appointments to ensure everything is going well and you have adequate nutrition. 

Most people take around two weeks to recover from gastric band surgery. 

Aftercare is included within your treatment price and you will have access to a range of specialists and information to help you with your aftercare and support.

Complications and side effects

You may experience some side effects such as bruising, pain and swelling around your wounds and vomiting or feeling sick after eating, especially if you try to eat too much. Try to chew your food well, eat smaller portions and carefully choose the foods you eat.

Possible complications of any operation include: bleeding or a blood clot, pain and wound infection. Complications associated with gastric band surgery include:

  • Infection of your gastric band.
  • Your gastric band may slip out of place, leak, erode or slowly work its way through your stomach wall.
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux.
  • Constipation or diarrhoea.
  • Injury of an organ such as stomach, oesophagus or spleen.
  • Gallstones if you lose weight too quickly, this is regardless of the gastric weight loss surgery.
  • Food intolerance resulting in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and gastro-oesophageal reflux (GER).
  • Erosion - very slowly, and particularly if the balloon is tightly inflated, the band can work its way into or through he wall of the stomach and cease to be effective

Your weight loss surgeon will discuss these in detail with you before you decide to have gastric banding.

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