Gastric Band

Gastric band surgery (lap-banding) is a reversible weight loss procedure that reduces the size of the stomach pouch. It is performed with laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery.

How it works

An inflatable band is placed around the stomach to divide it into two parts. This creates a smaller pouch at the top which holds less food, making you feel fuller after eating less. The food then passes slowly through the opening into the lower part of your stomach and moves normally through your digestive system. 

The gastric band is inflated with a saline solution to reduce the size of the opening into the lower part of the stomach. This further restricts the amount of food you can eat. 

When the band is in place in the abdomen, adjustments are made by injecting fluid through a small tube. This way, the size of the band can be increased or decreased until the right level of restriction is achieved. Several adjustments are necessary because getting the right level of restriction will be different for individuals. Adjustments are made at the hospital, starting six weeks after having the surgery.

Is it right for me? 

Gastric band surgery is an option if you have failed to lose significant weight through dieting and exercise. The criteria for eligibility usually requires you to be at least 100 lbs overweight and have a BMI of 40, or higher. If your BMI is very high, to reduce the risk of complications, you might be asked to lose weight before having surgery. You may also be eligible for the procedure if you have a lower BMI between 35-40 and have obesity-related health conditions.

What is the recovery like?

You should be able to go home one to two days after the operation. Keyhole surgery is less invasive than traditional open surgeries. The standard recovery period is two weeks, although this varies for individuals. With the gastric band you will be required to make regular visits to the hospital to have the banding adjusted. As with all weight loss surgeries, you will also need to attend follow up appointments with your doctor, dietician and patient support group. 

What are the risks and complications?

All surgeries come with risk. Possible complications associated with the gastric band can include:

  • Lung problems 
  • Spleen injury 
  • Band slippage 
  • Bleeding after surgery 
  • Wound infections 
  • Blood clots 
  • Blockages 
  • Some individuals find that excess skin can be a problem after a year or two of rapid weight loss. 

Please seek and follow the specific guidelines from your bariatric team. Guidelines vary for individual patient needs and surgeries.