Gastric Band Operations

A gastric band operation is a form of surgery intended to help people lose weight. It works by reducing the size of the stomach so that people feel fuller after eating a smaller amount of food, this encouraging them to eat less.           

How is the operation carried out?

Gastric band surgery typically takes no more than one hour and it is usually fitted by laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, though it can be done by open surgery depending on the individual patient and the surgeon. During laparoscopic surgery the surgeon will make around four of five small incisions in the patients abdomen. Then using small surgical tools and a laparoscopic camera, the surgeon will place the gastric band around the upper part of the patients stomach.

The gastric band includes a balloon which when saline is inserted controls the size of the entrance to the stomach. The amount of saline can be changed by the surgeon after the operation once any swelling from the operation has gone down. The adjustments ensure that the patient loses weight at a safe but steady rate.

After the operation

After the operation the patient will need to rest, and may need pain relief to deal with any discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off. If the patient has had laparoscopic surgery the recovery rate is quicker than with open surgery and they are encouraged to start drinking small amounts of water as soon as they can after the operation. Patients are also encouraged to start moving around as soon as possible to discourage the possibility of blood clots. Patients are usually able to return home the day after their operation and they are given advice about the diet they will need to follow in the subsequent weeks. Patients will need to return to the hospital as an outpatient after the operation to have their gastric band adjusted.

Recovering from the operation

In the weeks following the operation, patients will need to make drastic changed to their diet. They are recommended to start off with a purely liquid diet and progress to pureed food. Patients will notice that they do not need to eat a lot in order to feel full. Patients are also encouraged to change their lifestyle and to become more active. This will ensure that their gastric band operation works to the fullest. Continuing with an active lifestyle will help people to lose weight at a faster rate and also to keep the weight off. It usually takes around two weeks to recover from the operation although this is likely to change depending on the individual and the type of surgery they have undergone.


Most people who have gastric bypass surgery do not experience complications although the more obese a person is, and any medical problems they have such as high blood pressure or diabetes, the higher the risk of surgery. Complications can include a chest infection, blood clots, an infection in the wound or band itself, injury to the stomach or the gastric band slipping out of place. All these complications have different problems and whilst some can be sorted during the operation some can be fatal. The exact risks are specific to each individual and they will be discussed fully with the patient prior to the operation.

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