Gastric Band

Laparoscopic Gastric Band Surgery

What is gastric band surgery?

Gastric band surgery is a type of weight-loss surgery where the size of your stomach is reduced using an adjustable band so that you can only eat small meals.

The operation is done as a laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery procedure while you are asleep under a general anaesthetic. It usually takes 30 minutes to one hour.

On average, patients tend to lose up to 50% of their excess body weight with this procedure.

About the operation:

The operation involves placing an adjustable band around the upper part of your stomach to create a pouch. This pouch fills up quickly and the food you eat then passes slowly through a narrow opening created by the band, into the lower part of your stomach. The food then passes normally through the rest of your digestive system.

The size of the opening from the pouch determines how quickly food leaves your stomach and is adjusted by adding or removing fluid to/from the band. A thin tube connects the band to an 'access port' that has been placed under the skin of your chest or below your ribs. The band is adjusted with a saline solution with a hypodermic needle four to six weeks after the operation, leaving time for the swelling caused by the surgery to settle down. You are likely to have your band adjusted five or six times in the first year after your operation. This ability to adjust the band enables to customize your weight loss while minimizing adverse side effects.

What are the alternatives?

Other alternative surgical options are laparoscopic gastric bypass or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

Surgery is usually recommended only if non-surgical treatments, such as diet, exercise and medicines haven’t worked.

What are the advantages of having a gastric band?

  • Less invasive than other bariatric procedures
  • Reversible procedure.
  • Adjustable treatment customized to patient
  • Shorter stay in hospital and shorter recovery time as compared to other bariatric procedures.

What are the risks?

Gastric band surgery is generally a very safe operation.

However, in order for you to make an informed decision and give consent for the operation, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications of this procedure.


These are the unwanted, but mostly temporary effects of a successful treatment.

You are likely to have some bruising, pain and swelling of the skin around the healing wounds.

You may feel or be sick after eating, especially if you try to eat too much.


This is when problems occur during or after the operation. 

Most people will not experience any serious complications from this surgery.

As with any operation, there are risks associated with having a general anaesthetic. The possible complications include an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in the leg (deep vein thrombosis, DVT) or in the lungs (pulmonary emboli, PE).

Complications specific to a gastric band operation are listed here:

  • Infection - antibiotics are usually given during surgery to prevent infection. If an infection doesn't respond to antibiotics your band may need to be removed.
  • Damage to other organs in your abdomen - you may need further surgery to repair any damage.
  • Band problems - your band may slip out of place, leak, or work its way through the stomach wall. If this happens, your band may need to be repositioned, removed or replaced.
  • Gallstones - there is a risk you may develop gallstones if you lose weight quickly. These can be painful and you may need surgery to remove them.
  • Failure to lose weight - it's possible you may fail to lose sufficient weight or regain weight you have lost after band surgery.

There is a chance your surgeon may need to convert your keyhole procedure to open surgery. This means making a bigger cut on your abdomen. This is only done if it's impossible to complete the operation safely using the keyhole technique.

The exact risks are specific to you and will differ for every person. Overall, there is a 5-10% risk of adverse effects (as listed above) and a 1 in 2,000 (0.05%) risk of death caused by having this operation. Up to one in 10 patients will need further surgery for these or other complications.

How long does it take to get better from surgery?

Provided you are well enough, you may be able to go home the same day of your operation. Otherwise, you will be required to stay overnight in hospital. Full recovery from a gastric band can take one to two weeks.

Is the gastric band operation reversible?

The gastric band operation is reversible.

The usual plan is for the gastric band to stay in place permanently so that you are more likely to lose weight and maintain any weight loss. However, the band can be removed at any time, but if you do have it removed, you are likely to regain weight.

If the band needs to come out for any reason, this can be done using keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery, but might require open surgery.

This factsheet is for people who are planning to have gastric band surgery, or who would like information about it. Although every effort is made to inform you on gastric band surgery, there will be specific information that will not be discussed here. Also, your care will be adapted to meet your individual needs and may differ from what is described here.

Further information:

Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO) 020 8503 2042

British Obesity Surgery Patients Association (BOSPA) 0845 602 0446

Gastric band prices start from£6,695*

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