Key Points about Gastric Banding Surgery

  • Gastric banding is a surgical procedure used to help you lose weight.
  • During this procedure, your surgeon makes small incisions in the stomach and then wrapping a soft silicone ring with a balloon attached around it to make the stomach shrink.
  • The band helps you feel full after eating a small amount of food. This can lead to weight loss.

Overview

People who undergo gastric banding are those who have tried and been unsuccessful in losing weight with medically supervised diet and exercise.

Candidates for gastric banding surgery

Gastric banding is a treatment for obesity or being severely overweight. Most people who undergo gastric banding surgery have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. 

Like all types of bariatric surgery, gastric banding is a tool that can help you lose weight – but not a quick fix. Getting a gastric band means that you are committing to radically changing your life. Those who undergo gastric banding surgery should not have any dependencies on drugs or alcohol, as these issues can make your chances for long-term success much lower.

Expectations from gastric banding surgery

You will be under general anesthesia (fully asleep) for this procedure. To begin, your surgeon makes a few tiny incisions in your abdomen. Your surgeon uses these openings to insert his or her surgical instruments, including the camera, to guide surgery and the band itself. 

Your surgeon places the gastric band around the upper portion of your stomach, creating a tiny pouch for your stomach. Your surgeon will not need to make any cuts or do any stapling inside your abdomen. Once the band is in place, your surgeon closes your abdomen incisions with stitches or surgical glue. This entire procedure typically only takes 30 to 60 minutes.

Risks associated with gastric banding surgery

Just like many other invasive surgeries, there are common risks associated with gastric banding surgery including:

  • Infections
  • Bleeding
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism

Risks specific to gastric banding include:

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Food obstruction
  • Band slippage
  • Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)

Recovery from gastric banding surgery

In most cases, you’ll be able to return home the same day of your gastric banding procedure. You can expect to take about a week off work following your procedure but can resume most normal activities within a couple of days.

For your health and long-term success, you must stick to your prescribed diet:

  • First two to three weeks after surgery, you will eat liquids and mashed-up foods.
  • Weeks three to six after surgery, you will slowly incorporate soft foods into your diet. If you have stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting, you will have to return to the liquid-only diet.
  • Beyond six weeks after surgery, you will slowly incorporate regular foods from the bariatric diet into your daily eating habits. Your diet will focus on high-protein, low-carb options, with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eating large quantities of foods or sugary or processed foods will compromise your gastric band and could even be dangerous to your health.

You should keep losing weight for up to three years after your gastric band surgery. Down the road, your bariatric specialist may choose to loosen or tighten the gastric band, as needed. Your doctor may want to do this if you are experiencing problems eating, not losing as much weight as expected, or regularly vomiting after you eat.

When should I seek care?

If you think that you may be a candidate for gastric banding surgery for weight loss, start by speaking with your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a bariatric provider for more specialized treatment.