Gastric band FAQs

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Weight loss with the band

Weight loss* varies and the amount you lose will depend on how well you are able to follow the rules for band success: to eat slowly; to eat foods of the right texture and to cut down or cut out high calorie soft foods and drinks. We give more detail in the Food and drink section. See expected weight loss results for further information, or you may wish to view some of our patients before and after photos.

It is possible in theory but we have not seen it in practice. The band is adjustable so if you are losing more weight than is desirable we can always loosen the band to reduce restriction and increase portion sizes.

The 3 golden rules are to eat slowly, to eat foods of the right texture and to reduce consumption of food and drink that is high in calories, e.g. ice cream and alcohol. Eating slowly is important because you need to allow time both for food to clear from the pouch, through the band and into the bigger stomach, and to allow time for the messages from your stomach to reach your brain

Yes, it is possible to fail with a gastric band and in most studies the failure rate is 10-15%. The patients who fail are those who are unable to follow golden rules for success. The gastric band is a tool and success is about learning, with our help, how to make best use of that tool so that you feel fuller for longer on a smaller portion. The most successful patients, see success stories, are those who understand and keep to the rules. We will discuss these in detail at your consultation

We can usually take steps to help you be successful. If after several attempts you cannot achieve your weight loss goals with the band there are other surgical options we can explore but this would always be a last resort

Don’t worry if this is the case. It is likely that you just need a band fill. If this happens call the office on 0121 693 4488 and we’ll advise what is needed.

Possibly. The amount of lax skin depends upon your age and weight, generally the older and heavier you are, the more likely you are to have lax skin (read more). 

The most common procedure is removal of the abdominal apron though some patients have more extensive “body-contouring”. You should wait 1-2 years before making any decisions and ensure that any corrective surgery is done by a specialist surgeon. If you are considering cosmetic surgery, contact us to arrange a consultation with our own bariatric cosmetic specialist.

Eligibility for a band

You are eligible for a gastric band if:

  • You have a body mass index (BMI)of 30kg/m2 or more
  • You have tried other ways to lose weight without success e.g. diets
  • Your weight is having a negative impact on your health and well-being

Ultimately, a decision about your eligibility will be made by your consultant in combination with our wider multi-disciplinary team. The final decision will always reside with you and at consultation, our aim is to provide you with all the facts you need in order to reach the best decision for you personally. Different eligibility criteria apply for people having surgery in the NHS. See the question below ‘Can I have a gastric band in the NHS ‘

We will assess your medical history at consultation and determine if gastric band surgery could be suitable for you. See eligibility requirements here

The minimum BMI requirement for a gastric band is 30kg/m2 which for a woman of average height (5ft 5in / 165cm) would equate to a weight of 12st 13lbs / 82kg.

It is impossible to be precise because criteria vary between Trust areas. What we can say is that very few Trusts offer gastric band surgery. There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being that the patients they treat tend to be both heavier and higher risk than those we see in private practice, meaning that the gastric sleeve or gastric bypass is the better option. The other challenge that gastric bands pose for the NHS is that patients require long term follow up in specialist clinics and this can be a burden to maintain. The sleeve and bypass procedures certainly require less follow up. 

If you are in a part of the country where your local NHS Trust does gastric band surgery, and your GP refers you, you are likely to have a BMI of 45kg/m2 or over and have one or more weight related co-morbidities, e.g. type 2 diabetes. It’s important to remember that patients only become eligible for weight loss surgery on the NHS when they have followed a long term non surgical weight loss programme. This can pose a very practical barrier for most patients. These obstacles are not present for private practice patients.

About the surgery

The gastric band is designed to stay in for life and when we implant the band we do not expect to remove it. There are post operative complications that can lead to band removal and these reasons are explained in more detail elsewhere. The first band was only implanted in 1993, so our experience is limited as no one has had a band in for more than 20 years. 

Implantation takes around 45 minutes and is usually carried out as a day case procedure but may involve a one night stay in a private hospital. The gastric band procedure is carried out under a general anaesthetic by laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery so that the scarring is minimal and the recovery time short.

The band procedure is done under general anaesthetic. This is essential in order to achieve the necessary muscle relaxation in the abdomen. The surgeon will insert up to 5 access ports (Small tubes) through incisions in the abdomen. The band and instruments used to fit it are placed through these 5 ports. You can read more about the surgery itself by following the link to our gastric band page.

We see patients for consultation in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Newport (Wales), Gatwick, Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, Wolverhampton, Shrewsbury, Southampton, Watford, Cardiff and Belfast. Your consultation will be with a specialist consultant, usually a surgeon. At consultation we take all the time that is needed to learn about your weight loss history, to explain your options and to discuss what procedure might be best for you. It is the first and most important step in the journey.

Your procedure can be performed in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds, Watford, Tunbridge Wells, Gatwick, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Gatwick, Newport (Wales) and Southampton.

Yes, most gastric band procedures are now done as day cases. It is an extremely safe procedure. If a patient needs to stay in overnight as a precautionary measure this is usually planned in advance. It is important to stress that we only ever discharge a patient when the surgeon is satisfied that it is safe for the patient to go home 

It is hard to say and the speed at which you get over your gastric band procedure can vary. Most of our patients who have surgery on a Saturday tell us that they feel able to return to some light work on the following Monday, but this depends on the type of work you do. We encourage all gastric band patients to plan on needing a week after their surgery to recover but we don’t expect this to be needed as time away from work. We will advise you, based on your personal situation, at your consultation. 

The main side effect of the gastric band is weight loss*. You will be eating less and feeling fuller sooner. 

Following gastric band surgery, you need to wait 72 hours before you can drive. You should check with your motor insurer what their requirement is. Generally they ask policyholders not to drive for 72 hours after a general anaesthetic. Thereafter you may find driving a little uncomfortable until the port sites have fully healed, usually around 10 days. 

Generally, there is minimal scarring. The ports are placed in the abdomen through 4 or 5 narrow (1cm) incisions and the access port is fixed through an incision about 3-4 cms. These are sutured and/or glued and will normally heal in 10-14 days. The scars should fade gradually. Some people have a greater tendency to form keloid, which may result in thicker and more prominent scars. However, we also offer a “no scar” band procedure which will leave no visible scarring. 

You are likely to have some discomfort from the port entry sites through which the operating instruments and camera were passed, especially where the band access port was placed in the deep tissues. It is also common to have left shoulder pain which is actually pain coming from the diaphragm, the large thin sheet of muscle separating the chest from the abdominal cavity. It usually settles after a few days. As a general rule, most do not have severe pain and any discomfort responds to simple painkillers.

You will need to follow a low-calorie pre-operative diet for a minimum of 5 days before your surgery for a number of reasons: it reduces fat around the stomach and liver making surgery safer; it shrinks the size of the liver; it improves surgical outcomes and recovery and helps you transition from your old diet to the new diet that you will follow straight after your procedure and then for the long term.

You will also need to follow a post-operative diet regime in the weeks following your procedure. This consists of 2 weeks fluids only and 2 weeks soft solids / purees. This allows time for your stomach to recover and surrounding tissue to heal and minimises complications eg retching and vomiting.

Yes. Gastric banding is a highly effective treatment for weight loss* and is the first choice for most people, mainly because it is the safest of all weight loss surgery procedures with over 20 years of proven results.

Yes. The band can be “aspirated”, which means that all saline is removed from the band, during a routine clinic appointment. This removes all restriction from the band and the procedure is effectively reversed. The band can remain in this unfilled state for life with no permanent effect on the stomach or digestive function. Alternatively the band can be surgically removed if desired.

About the device

The band is made of solid silicone and comprises 3 main parts, the band that fits around the stomach, the access port through which it is adjusted and the thin length of tubing that connects the two. Silicone implants have been used in various areas of medicine for more than 50 years and there is no evidence at all to suggest that silicone is dangerous. Unlike breast implants with a liquid silicone core, solid silicone cannot leak into the tissues.

No, there is no metal in a gastric band, it is made of solid silicone. This means that it will not be picked up by airport scanners.

Gastric band complications

Complications fall into two categories, general surgical complications and procedure specific complications. The general operative complications are haemorrage (bleeding), pulminary embolus/deep vein thrombosis and/or anaesthetic reaction. There is also the risk of death with any surgical procedure but most published band studies show zero mortality and that is the case at Healthier Weight. We have done 3000 gastric band procedures with no emergency returns to theatre. The recognised procedure specific complications are band slippage, band erosion, band leakage, port/band infection, inaccessible port and pseudo capsule.

Complication rates are low in specialist centres, like our own. We work only with hospitals, surgeons, anaesthetists, devices and clinicians who are specialist in weight loss surgery. The combined effect is a complication rate comparable to the best centres worldwide. 

Band slippage is when the larger part of the stomach below the band is retched or vomited up through the band. It is usually induced by by either eating too quickly or eating portions that are too big. The risk is small when the band is placed by a specialist surgeon and the recommended post op diet is followed. If you vomit regularly after meals you should let us know as, over time, if left uncorrected this could lead to a slippage.

Based on our patient data, the risk of gastric band slippage with Healthier Weight is 1% (1 in 100) although the national average is 4-5% (4-5 in 100). See complication rates above. By following our post-op diet recommendations both immediately after surgery and then in the long term (eating small portions, slowly), you can reduce your risk of slippage. 

There are a few indications of band slippage such as an intolerance to / regurgitation of solid foods, pain behind the breastbone, acid indigestion and night cough. These symptoms can also, however, be indicative of a band that is too tight. If you experience any of these symptoms, contact the nursing team for advice and support.

There are two things you can do to reduce the risk of a complication. The first is to follow the dietary advice provided, this is especially important in the weeks following your procedure. The second is to let us know if you are vomiting on a regular basis after meals. When you are following the eating/dietary guidelines we provide you should not be vomiting so if you let us know as soon as this starts, it is likely to be possible for us to take measures to reduce the risk of you experiencing a complication.

Yes, the gastric band can leak and this can arise from the band itself, the tubing or the access port. Leaks from the band itself (i.e. the part that sits around the top of the stomach) are extremely rare with modern devices. No Healthier weight patient has had such a leak. Leaks from the tubing and the port can arise and the location of the leak is usually diagnosed using an x ray. An access port leak is fixed by replacing the port, usually under local anaesthetic. A tubing leak will usually require replacement of the entire gastric band. 

Although it may sound alarming a leak is easily diagnosed and fixed and does not usually expose you to risk or discomfort. It does however cause the gastric band to lose restriction and you will find your portion sizes increasing. It is therefore important to diagnose and fix it as soon as possible. Your band warranty protects you in the event of a leak within 2 years of your surgery.

A 2 year warranty is included free of charge within our gastric band packages but you can choose to upgrade to a 5 year warranty for additional peace of mind. It’s not possible to give a lifetime warranty as we cannot predict complications 30-40 years in the future. The cost would be prohibitive. To find out if your complication is covered by the gastric band warranty, report your symptoms immediately and we will organise investigative tests. Based on the results, we will confirm if your complication is covered under warranty. If revisional surgery is required, it is only covered under warranty if it is organised by Healthier Weight

The following are excluded from the gastric band warranty:

  • Removal of the gastric band without any clinical requirement e.g. if you decide you no longer wish to have it implanted
  • Repositioning of the band access port for cosmetic reasons
  • Pouch dilatation caused by a patient’s maladaptive eating, i.e. by non compliance with the recommended dietary regime
  • Any complication or medical condition other than those listed in the terms and conditions of the warranty 

There’s usually a good reason why your band isn’t working and it tends to be due to either poor dietary compliance or a need for a further band adjustment. In most cases our specialist team can work with you to correctly adjust your band and offer the nutritional advice and support you need to get you on the road to weight loss success. 

Adjusting the band (AKA 'band fills')

The band is adjusted in a simple procedure that is performed in clinic. At your appointment we will locate the access port and inject saline into the band. Most patients say adjustment of the band is painless. Your appointment will last no more than 15 minutes

An x ray adjustment is a band adjustment performed under x ray. The first band adjustment is sometimes done under x ray but this is unnecessary when the band is being adjusted by an experienced practitioner. In our experience it is better to protect the patient from an unnecessary x ray. We therefore reserve the x ray adjustment included in your band package for use only when necessary

Your band will be adjusted by a member of the Healthier Weight clinic team. One of the unique features of Healthier Weight is that only specialist clinicians trained to our own high standards, and working to our own protocol will adjust your band

No. Experience shows some people worry about the adjustment but it consists only of a brief scratch of the skin with a small needle and then some mild discomfort as we push on the access port. It takes just a few minutes and requires no anaesthetic.

We usually adjust the band for the first time 5 weeks after your surgery

This depends on your progress. If you are losing 1-2lbs (0.5-1kg) a week, have no symptoms and feel well, your band is fine. If your weight loss is very slow or you have little restriction, you may need an adjustment. Most patients will need 3 or 4 adjustments in order to achieve the optimal restriction for steady, sustained weight loss. Some patients will need fewer and some more. The two years aftercare  we include in your band package will be enough for you to achieve the necessary restriction. Some people think if the band is giving good weight loss, tightening it will give better results. This is not true. An over-adjusted band can be dangerous, risking slippage.

The access port is placed about an inch below the surface. It is usually to the side and slightly above the umbilicus (belly button)

The access port is not visible. At Healthier Weight we place the port in a position specifically to avoid it protruding. In a very small proportion of cases, after reaching your target weight, the access port may appear slightly raised below the skin. If this were to occur, it can usually be solved by re-positioning the port.

After gastric band surgery - Eating

With a gastric band, you may eat most foods that don’t cause you discomfort. However, because you can only eat small amounts, it is important to include foods which are rich in protein but low in fat and sugar. We encourage you to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meat and fish. You will receive detailed nutritional information following your band surgery.

There are not really any foods that you should avoid, and that is one of the benefits of the gastric band. In order to maximise your weight loss, however, it is important to avoid or reduce the calories you consume through soft foods or liquids. When you are eating soft foods the ‘squeezing’ of food through the stomach doesn’t occur and you will not get the early feeling of fullness that you want. So, a band gives you complete flexibility but you need to be careful about the textures of what you eat. Following the advice that we provide on eating with a band will give you the best possible chance of successful weight loss, and minimise eating discomfort.

No, one of the benefits of a gastric band is that due to your new smaller stomach pouch, you will feel fuller much sooner and after eating a very small amount. You may find that eating smaller amounts more often rather than three bigger meals a day can help to curb hunger

You will be eating much smaller portions after gastric band surgery and you have to make conscious changes to your eating style. Not only will you need to consider the amount of food you eat but the speed at which you eat. Your portion size is likely to be about 6 tablespoons of food and the biggest challenge is to slow down your eating to enable you to recognise when you are no longer hungry. All Healthier Weight patients are given instructions and a small egg timer to help adapt to this new style of eating. If you eat too much or too quickly, the food can become “backed up” and you may feel the need to vomit to clear the obstruction. This is bad practice and could cause future complications.

Yes, of course. You’ll just find you make slightly different menu choices and you may not finish each course. No-one need know you have had a gastric band when you are eating foods of the right texture slowly

Food tolerances seem to differ from patient to patient but bread can be challenging for some. As with all foods, it is best to try bread in small quantities and see how you tolerate it.

Yes you can. There is a myth that gastric band patients can’t have fizzy drinks, but this is rarely the case. When it does occur we believe it is because the band has been over tightened. This is something we would avoid as an over tight band can give short term weight loss but lead to longer term problems

Yes, you can drink alcohol with a gastric band, but in moderation. Remember that alcohol has a high calorific value (7kcal/gram) and passes easily through your band so when you are drinking alcohol your band will not be working for you.

It is not essential, but we usually recommend it. In fact, several studies have shown that most of the UK population would benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation.

No. Although it is a very common belief, even among health professionals, that sweet eaters will do poorly after gastric band surgery. Good scientific data show that sweet eaters do just as well as anyone else.

No. If you are vomiting it is usually a sign that your gastric band is too tight, you are eating too quickly, or your potions are too big. In the very early days with your band you’ll vomit occasionally as you learn how quickly you can eat foods of different texture. If you are vomiting regularly you should call us so we can advise what to do.

After gastric band surgery - Lifestyle

Our very own Nurse Maxine has put together a series of videos to help patients get the most out of their band. Over the following 8 videos, she discusses what you should expect after weight loss surgery. You can watch these video by following the link.

Yes, when you’ve decided to have weight loss surgery, your next biggest decision is which provider to trust. We encourage you to speak to our patients and read their reviews to get a true picture of what you can expect from Healthier Weight. You can read our Trustpilot reviews here.

Yes, we have a fantastic range of case studies. We’ve helped thousands of people just like you to lose weight with a gastric band and many are happy to share their before and after photos, and weight loss results. Use this link to find our gastric band case studies.

Some people feel the band is tighter when they fly. This can occur if there are small air bubbles in the band which don’t matter at normal pressure, but at 30,000 feet, can expand to make the band feel tighter. As a result, you may find it difficult to swallow solid foods but this returns to normal once you get back to ground. Incidentally, the band does not set off airport security or x-ray systems.

Not easily. It is normal to swallow air as we eat but we can usually bring this up again without difficulty. The band interferes with this natural process and patients can find it more difficult. The good news is that this problem only tends to last for the first few months.

This is fairly common, especially for patients with already tight bands. Some women notice that the band feels tighter during menstruation. It is probably just a function of changes in fluid balance.

Regular physical activity is important, and to begin with we recommend walking. As you become fitter you may wish to try more strenuous forms of activity, no type of exercise must be excluded.

After gastric band surgery - Health

Usually, you can continue with your regular medication but if your tablets are large, you may need to crush them up and take with a spoonful of yoghurt. Check with your GP or pharmacist first as some tablets are formulated to be released slowly or coated to protect the stomach. Capsules shouldn’t be a problem because they are soft and designed to soften and melt inside the stomach. 

Yes. It is usually safe to have other surgical procedures but it is important to let your surgeon know you have a gastric band. You must also let us know immediately. If your surgery involves general anaesthesia, we will empty your band in case you have a reaction to the anaesthetic that results in vomiting, putting pressure on the band. When recovered, the band can be re-adjusted.

As you eat less the amount of fibre in your diet falls and your bowel activity decreases. If you do become constipated, we can advise plenty of effective remedies to deal with the problem.

The band does not interfere in any way with pregnancy or giving birth, in fact, the likelihood of becoming pregnant is much higher. We follow a protocol for managing the gastric band during pregnancy so you should have no concerns. For more information on this subject, please see our research article: gastric banding during pregnancy

Price and finance

The price for a standard gastric band package will depend on the location where your surgery is done and on who the operating surgeon is. Most band cases are day cases (you go home on the day of surgery), but there will be some patients for whom it is necessary to schedule an overnight stay, for example if you are a diabetic patient or need a longer period of observation for some other reason.

See more info here

Yes. Over the years many patients have told us that they need finance to fund all or part of their gastric band procedure. To help with this we have introduced two plans:

Finance Plan: We have partnered with afforditNOW to help fund your band procedure. afforditNOW lend at a representative of 14.9% APR. You can pay over 36 or 48 months and can proceed with an upfront deposit of only £600.

Deferred Payment plan: You can choose to defer (delay) up to £2000 of your upfront procedure cost and pay this back in Interest Free installments over 12 months. This is an in-house Healthier Weight plan linked to your gastric band aftercare package.

No, the consultation is free of charge. We will, however, make a charge in the event that you do not attend an appointment without giving us 7 days notice. Appointments are in great demand so we do this in order to see as many people as possible, as soon as possible

Like most things in life, if you specialise in something, you develop a greater degree of skill and understanding. That applies to surgery as it does to anything else. When you choose Healthier Weight for your procedure you go ahead safe in the knowledge that every single member of staff is devoted to serving weight loss patients. It’s all we do and our results demonstrate our expertise. We respect the work that cosmetic surgery providers do for their cosmetic surgery patients but weight loss surgery is a totally different matter. At Healthier Weight we are helping people deal with what for them is a chronic, long term health issue. It is not remedied by the operation alone and the commitment we make to long term aftercare distinguishes us from non-specialist providers.

More on why you should choose Healthier Weight

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