5 things you should know about gastric band surgery

Gastric band

Have you ever thought about getting a gastric band but wanted to know more about it? We’ve pulled together the top five things you should know.

1. What is a gastric band (or laparoscopic band)?

Gastric band surgery is a minimally invasive, reversible keyhole operation performed under general anaesthetic where the surgeon inserts a silicon ‘doughnut’ to partition the top of the stomach. The band can be tightened or loosened if needed. As gastric band surgery is a keyhole surgery, your recovery time should be much quicker than with open surgery. In most cases, you can leave the hospital later that day. However, it varies from patient to patient so it’s important to follow your Consultant's advice.

The aim of gastric band surgery is to reduce the amount of food you can eat. For example, whenever you eat any food that is solid or dry, it sits above the fitted band for a while before mixing with saliva and trickling into the stomach. As a result, it takes up to three times as long to eat.

2. You need to be eligible for a gastric band

Gastric band surgery might be recommended if you’re struggling to lose a lot of weight, struggling to maintain weight loss long-term through diet and exercise or if you have health problems such as sleep apnoea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Body mass index, commonly known as BMI, is often used to determine a person’s eligibility. Gastric band surgery is one of the options available to you. Your Consultant will offer guidance as to whether your BMI makes you a suitable person for this procedure.

It’s best to talk through all the weight loss options with your Consultant Bariatric Surgeon and agree the best course of action for your individual needs and goals. We’re here to support and guide you through your journey.

3. You will need to prepare for gastric band surgery

Once you’ve had an initial consultation, we’ll give you a cooling off period of two weeks. This allows our patients to reflect on their decision. There is no rush to make a quick decision as this is a life changing procedure. We’ll make a series of appointments for blood tests and preoperative assessment, including fitness for anaesthesia. Your surgery will then be booked for four to six weeks’ time.

Once you’ve decided to go ahead with gastric band surgery and a date is agreed, you’ll need to follow a strict diet in the two weeks before the operation to prepare your body for surgery. This pre-operative diet will help shrink your liver, allowing your Consultant to operate more easily and safely.

Smoking may lead to post-operative complications and slow down your recovery so, if you’re a smoker, we’ll advise you to stop.

4. How is a gastric band fitted?

Once you’re under general anaesthetic, an inflatable band is inserted using keyhole surgery and placed to sit around the top of your stomach just below the gullet, then locked into place.

Your stomach can then be restricted by inflating the band through a tube. The tubing travels internally to a port just beneath the skin and on top of the muscle of the tummy wall. Saline solution is injected into the port and this tightens the ring, creating an hour-glass effect on the stomach. It doesn’t bulge, although it can be felt through the skin.

5. What happens after surgery?

Recovery time

  • Once you’re home, we’d recommend you take up to two weeks off work. While you’re off, you should avoid sitting for long periods of time and be as mobile as you can to avoid blood clots forming. You should avoid lifting heavy objects and you shouldn’t drive

Diet

  • During the two weeks after your operation, you’ll need to change your diet and your eating patterns. You’ll only be able to drink liquids before easing yourself into more solid foods, which you’ll need to chew thoroughly to avoid any discomfort

Nutritional Therapist

  • You’ll have access to a Nutritional Therapist for nutritional advice, including diet sheets if you need them, and face-to-face follow-up appointments for several months afterwards to monitor progress. They may suggest supplements to ensure you get the nutrients you need for energy and good health

Review

  • The band's effectiveness will be reviewed as part of your regular 8 to 12-week follow-up cycle and topped up if needed. It needs to be tight enough for you to lose weight but, at the same time, we need to make sure it’s not too restrictive. It's a simple procedure to inject further saline solution through the access port, which then flows into the ring, tightening it. We’ll ask you to sip some water to check that the ring is not too tight

Jenny Eldridge's gastric band success

Having lost five and a half stone in 17 months since weight loss surgery, Jenny Eldridge tells us about the life changing gastric band she had fitted at Benenden Hospital.

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Join our weight loss surgery webinar

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Published on 11 January 2022