Gastric banding is a highly effective weight loss surgical procedure that limits how much food you can eat. Also known as lap banding, the operation helps overweight people achieve substantial and long-term weight loss.

You may be eligible for surgery if your BMI (body mass index) of over 40, or if it is over 35 and you have other medical conditions. To reduce your risk of complications you may be asked to lose weight before surgery.

The procedure

An inflatable band is placed around the stomach to divide it into two parts. This creates a smaller pouch at the top, taking in less food to make you feel full. The food then passes slowly through the opening into the lower part of your stomach and continues on as normal.

Gastric band

The gastric band can be inflated with saline solution to reduce the size of the opening into the lower part of the stomach. This will further restrict the amount of food you can eat, making you feel fuller for longer.

The band can be inserted into the abdomen using keyhole surgery, through four or five small cuts. Adjustments to the gastric band are made by injecting fluid through a very small tube, which has a special button-like reservoir just under your skin. It can be inflated and deflated in this way, until the right level of restriction is achieved. It takes several adjustments to find the right level of restriction, the exact number being tailored to each individual patient. These will be done at hospital, and the first one is usually six weeks after gastric banding.

The procedure is reversible.

For more information, and if you have any queries about the procedure, speak to your consultant.

Continue taking your normal medication unless you are told otherwise.

The following lifestyle changes can help make the procedure a success:

  • Giving up smoking
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly. Your GP can recommend exercises.

Possible complications

  • Lung problems
  • Spleen injury
  • Band slippage
  • Bleeding after surgery
  • Wound infections
  • Blood clots
  • Blockages
  • Some patients find that after a year or two of rapid weight loss they are left with excess skin.

This is not a definitive list and symptoms will vary with each patient. Please ask your consultant for more information.

Recovery

You should be able to go home one to two days after the operation. Most people need two weeks to recover after the operation. You will need to visit hospital regularly to have the banding adjusted. You will need to attend follow-up appointments with your doctor, dietician and patient support groups.

On average people lose around half of their excess weight within two years of surgery. Average actual weight loss is around half a stone per month, though this varies with each patient. Most people can expect to lose a significant amount of weight loss within nine to 12 months. These figures are a guide. For further information, speak to your consultant.