Gastric Band Surgery


What is gastric band surgery?

Gastric banding, also known as lap banding, is a procedure which aims to make you feel full after eating a small portion of food. It works by restricting the capacity of your stomach, so that you eat less and, over time, lose weight.


Why do people choose to have gastric band surgery?

Obesity can cause a multitude of health problems. Gastric banding is generally carried out to help weight loss and to reduce the risks to health related to obesity. 


Gastric banding may be appropriate for you if:

  • You are morbidly obese (have a BMI of over 40)
  • You have a BMI of between 30 - 40 and suffer from a condition that poses a serious health risk (including diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure)
  • You have tried to lose weight in the conventional way, through diet and exercise, but have failed to lose a significant amount of weight.


Benefits of gastric banding

Obesity is associated with a multitude of health problems and losing weight can also help to reduce them.

The motivations for gastric band surgery vary from person to person, however the results patients commonly report include:


Significant weight loss

A long term change in attitude towards healthy eating Improved health and mobility
Improved mental wellbeing
Boost to self-esteem and self-confidence.


How does the gastric banding work?

During the procedure, your surgeon will place an adjustable band around your stomach to create two compartments, keeping a narrow opening between the top and bottom so that food can pass through it slowly. There is a limited space left for food so it should quickly create the sensation of fullness. Once the food passes through the opening into the lower part of the stomach, it then makes its way through the rest of the digestive system.

After the procedure, your band may be adjusted depending on how much weight you are losing, and how quickly you are losing it. Fluid is usually injected into the band to tighten it, and this is known as a band adjustment.


Is gastric band surgery available on the NHS?

To qualify for gastric banding on the NHS you need to meet certain criteria, with each applicant judged on a case-by-case basis. NHS funding for this procedure is limited and varies by area. For this reason, many people find that private gastric banding is the best option for them.


Gastric band surgery aftercare

You may need to stay in hospital overnight so we can look after you and make sure we are happy with everything before you go home; but some gastric banding operations are now carried out as a day case, with no overnight stay in hospital.

Having gastric banding at a Spire hospital means you will be treated by an experienced bariatric (obesity) surgeon who will discuss your options and the best course of treatment for you before going ahead with surgery. Our team of dietitians and specialist nurses will look after you throughout your stay and provide support and advice after surgery.


Gastric banding from Spire Weight Loss Surgery

With Spire Weight Loss Surgery you will see an experienced consultant of your choice at a time that suits you. You will be treated in a premium private hospital, not a clinic, and you can be assured of our commitment to healthcare standards and infection control excellence. What’s more, you’ll be able to recuperate in your own private room with friends and family able to visit when you wish.


Frequently asked questions about gastric banding

What are the potential problems after surgery?
Your body will tell you if it is unhappy with the consistency and type of food that you have consumed. The most common problems associated with a gastric band are:

Band slippage
Gastric band slip can be caused by persistent vomiting and making the wrong food choices. If the band slips, it will be out of position and can cause an obstruction which can be fatal if left untreated. You may experience nausea and vomiting, pain and indigestion symptoms. We would arrange tests to confirm this diagnosis, the band would be fully deflated and if the tests prove positive a further operation may be necessary. It is important that you follow the dietary guidelines provided to you to reduce this risk.
Obstruction of the band
If the food you eat is too large and solid it may be unable to pass through the band into the lower part of the stomach, causing an obstruction. If you experience pain after eating food of the wrong consistency it may take some time (a day or so) before the symptoms settle. Take plenty of fluids to help the food to break down. If the symptoms do not settle please contact the hospital for advice.

Similarly, if your band is too tight, food may be unable to pass through the band, and again you must contact the hospital as soon as possible.
Pouch dilatation
Increasing your portion size can stretch the stomach pouch causing a dilatation. If this happens your stomach capacity will increase and the restriction you initially felt will reduce, which may mean that you start to regain weight.  If this happens test will be carried out in the radiology department and if a pouch dilatation is confirmed, the band will be completely deflated and rested for four to six weeks. If the dilatation has settled the band can be re-inflated, if not, then the band may have to be re-sited or removed surgically.

Band Erosion
In rare cases a gastric ulcer can form in the stomach on the inner side of the band. This can result in the band having to be surgically removed. Over inflation of the band can increase the irritation in this area increasing the risk of an ulcer developing. If you experience gastric irritation please discuss this with the bariatric specialist nurse.

How much weight will I lose?
Weight loss results following gastric band surgery vary. The national average weight loss is 50% of the excess body weight over an 18-24 month period.

Will I lose weight quickly?
Weight loss following placement of a gastric band continues for 18-24 months and is generally slower than other bariatric procedures. Band adjustments will be undertaken at stages following placement to ensure the band is adjusted to meet individual patient needs.

How long will I have to stay in hospital after surgery?
You are normally expected to stay overnight for this type of procedure, however, if it is clinically necessary for you to stay in longer then this will be explained to you by our clinical team

How long will I have to take off work?
Most people are able to return to work after 2-3 weeks depending on the kind of work you do. If you work in heavy manual labour you may require a little longer.

Will I have to take any medication after surgery?
There is no evidence to suggest that nutritional supplements are required but many patients choose to take a good quality multivitamin for the first few weeks after surgery. If you are eating a small, varied and healthy diet you should remain nutritionally stable in the long term.

Should I exercise after surgery?
You will be encouraged to exercise following surgery, gradually increasing your activity over two weeks. Exercise is an important part of your recovery – it will help relieve the symptoms of ‘trapped wind’, reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs (DVT), help increase weight loss by increasing metabolism and help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercise will also help support your joints and improve your final physique.

Exercise such as walking in the first two weeks can be increased gradually until you are exercising for 30 minutes three or four times a week. 

How long before I can drive after surgery?
You should not drive for ten days post operatively (DVLA policy). You can drive after that time if you can safely carry out an emergency stop. Ask your insurance company for advice if you have any doubts.

How will my eating habits change after surgery?
The aim of any weight loss treatment is to help individuals change eating habits and lifestyle to improve health and quality of life in the long-term. It is important to take this opportunity to make changes, as reverting to a grazing or poor quality food choices may result in regaining weight or less successful weight loss.

Will my current medical problems/conditions affect my weight loss surgery?
Many people with pre-existing medical conditions undergo treatment/surgery. Some medical conditions associated with increased body weight, such as type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, hyperlipidaemia and high blood pressure, can improve following weight loss and therefore treatment/surgery can help.  It is vital that you inform the specialist nurse and your doctors of any investigations or treatments you are receiving to ensure all tests and investigations are completed before proceeding as this will best ensure your safety and reduce the risks associated with surgery.

Will my band adjustment hurt?
An ‘adjustment’ is carried out by inserting a needle through your skin into the port which is placed in your upper abdomen close to your rib cage. It can be uncomfortable but should not be painful.

What if I am still very hungry after surgery?
The placement of the band puts pressure on the nerves at the top of your stomach which sends signals to your brain to indicate that your stomach is full. Some people do experience hunger until the band is fully adjusted. The band is an aid to weight reduction and should be used as one of a number of approaches to weight loss and maintaining a small, healthy and varied diet will give the best results.

What can I eat after surgery?
You will liaise very closely with our in house dietetics team who will give you a specific diet plan tailored to your individual needs after your surgery.

Will I have big scars?
You will have five very small scars equally spaced across your upper abdomen. The skin is closed with either soluble stitches or surgical glue. Wounds are generally covered for one week following which dressings can be taken off. Wounds should be healed within two to three weeks and scars fade over time.

Will I be able to drink alcohol after surgery?
We would suggest that alcohol is avoided for the first six to eight weeks of the ‘weaning’ period immediately following your surgery. Many people enjoy an alcoholic beverage and there is no reason why it should be completely avoided, but alcohol should be consumed in moderation. It is recommended that women should have no more than 14 units of alcohol per week, and men to have no more than 21 units of alcohol per week. However, alcohol is high in calories and therefore reducing consumption can assist in weight loss. Following bariatric surgery you will find that alcohol is absorbed into your blood stream much more rapidly, you may feel intoxicated much quicker as there is less food to absorb the alcohol in your stomach.

How long has this procedure been available?
Gastric band surgery has been available for many years in different forms. Developments in band production have ensured that they have longevity.

What does laparoscopic mean?
Laparoscopic surgery, also known as minimally invasive surgery, is a technique that allows surgery to be performed without the long traditional incision (cut). By using multiple small incisions, each between 5- 15mm long, the surgeon inserts instruments including a tiny camera. The camera allows the surgeon to view the surgery on a screen and view the operating field more clearly?

Can the surgery be reversed?
Bariatric surgery is never carried out with the intention of reversing the procedure. Band removal is only carried out when clinically necessary. Patients must make a lifelong commitment to their band to help achieve a successful outcome.

Is it safe to fly after surgery?
We would suggest that you do not fly long haul during the weaning period. There is a risk of blood clots related to surgery and you will be provided with medication, stockings and advice about how best to reduce your risks.

Holidays abroad are best avoided during this time as dietary requirements may be difficult to manage if away from home.

Which surgeons carry out this procedure?
All our surgeons are able to perform this procedure.