Common questions about the gastric band
Are gastric bands safe? Yes. The gastric band is the safest form of weight loss surgery with the lowest chance of serious complications and a proven safety record spanning over 20 years. It involves no permanent change to your body and can be fully reversed at a later date if required.
Do you feel hungry with a gastric band? A gastric band doesn’t just physically restrict the amount of food that you can consume, it also creates greater nerve stimulation on the restricted part of your stomach, this sends a message to your brain that you’re full. With a gastric band in place you should feel just as full from eating smaller portions. Band adjustments may help you to achieve this if that’s not the case.
What do you eat with a gastric band? For the first two weeks after surgery, you will follow a liquids only diet as this helps the stomach to recover. Minimising the chances of retching or vomiting will in turn minimise your risk of post-operative complications. The typical diet during this liquids only stage tends to consist of shakes, soups and runny porridge. For weeks three and four, you will move onto soft or pureed food, and from the fifth week onwards you will return to solid foods but in smaller portions. Some gastric band patients say that certain foods such as bread are best avoided as they can cause discomfort. Taking smaller mouthfuls (morsels the size of a 50p coin), eating slower, and chewing food more thoroughly will help the passage of food through the band and minimise any discomfort or the chance of the food getting "stuck".
Can you drink alcohol with a gastric band? Yes, however, please be aware that alcoholic drinks have a high calorie content, and they will pass easily through your band without any restriction. This will inevitably slow down your rate of weight loss, or even cause you to gain weight.
How soon after gastric band surgery can you drive? Following gastric band surgery, you will need to wait 72 hours before you can drive. We also recommend checking with your motor insurance company regarding their policy about driving after a general anesthetic.
What physical activity should I do? Regular physical exercise is important if you want to get the best possible weight loss results from your gastric band and there is no type of physical activity that should be excluded. We recommend walking as the best exercise to start with as you can gradually build up your steps, aiming to walk about 10,000 steps per day. As you become fitter and more mobile, you may wish to try more strenuous forms of physical activity.
Do I have to take vitamins with a gastric band? The risk of vitamin deficiency after gastric band surgery is a lot lower than with other weight loss procedures so vitamin tablets/supplements are not essential, however, for your long term health we do still recommend taking vitamins daily.
What happens if I get pregnant? A gastric band does not interfere with pregnancy, so it’s fine to give birth with it in place. We will aspirate (empty) your band as soon as you find out you are pregnant and it can be re-adjusted as soon as you give birth and/or finish breast-feeding your baby. In fact, fertility tends to increase as you lose weight so the likelihood of becoming pregnant after gastric band surgery is often greater.
How long does a gastric band last / can you have a gastric band removed? The band is designed to stay in for life and we do not expect to remove it. If, however, you require your band to be removed by choice or as a result of a complication, it can be removed relatively easily. As the implantation procedure did not involve cutting of the bowel or stomach, band removal leaves a fully restored stomach and digestive system. Read more on gastric band removal
How does a gastric band compare with other weight loss operations? The weight loss results with a gastric band are not as high as the gastric bypass or gastric sleeve. Gastric banding will also require you to make more changes to your lifestyle and eating habits. However, gastric banding carries less risk and is the only procedure that does not involve any cutting or stapling of the stomach, is fully reversible and can be adjusted without the need for further surgical intervention. In terms of price, gastric band surgery tends to cost considerably less than the other obesity surgery procedures. For more information on which procedure is likely to be the most suitable for you, use our procedure selector tool.
Where can I have gastric band surgery? We currently perform gastric band surgery at a number of private hospitals across the UK including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Southampton. For more information on our clinics and how to find us; find your nearest clinic
Want to find out more about the gastric band? Read our frequently asked questions