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How does the gastric band compare with the bypass?


The main advantage of gastric band obesity surgery is that it is the safest of all weight loss surgery procedures. Most modern published studies have between 0 and 0.1% (1:1000) mortality rates for the gastric band and serious complications such as haemorrhage (bleeding) are exceedingly rare.

The main reason why it is so safe is because, unlike other procedures such as the gastric bypass, implantation of the band does not involve cutting the stomach or the bowel. In experienced hands, however, the gastric bypass is still a very safe procedure.


Another important benefit of the gastric band is that it is the only procedure that is adjustable. By adding or removing saline from the band the degree of restriction can be varied and so personalised. These adjustments do however require regular clinic appointments.

Weight Loss

Some studies suggest that although early weight loss after gastric bypass obesity surgery tends to be greater after 5 years, there is almost nothing to choose between gastric bypass and gastric banding*. The gastric band does however generally have a higher re-operation rate than the gastric bypass.  

The differences between gastric banding and gastric bypass surgery are illustrated below:

Gastric Band Gastric Bypass 
% Excess Weight 50-60% * 60-75% *
Mechanism of weight loss Mainly restrictive Combination of restriction (70%) with hormonal changes (30%) in gut hormones, especially grehlin
Mortality (death) rate 0-01% (0 to 1:1000) 0.1% (3:1000)
Complication rate Up to 5% (5:100) 5-10% (5:100 - 10:100)
Average length of procedure 45 minutes  1.5 - 2 hours 
Type of procedure  Laparoscopic (keyhole)  Laparoscopic (keyhole) 
Average length of stay in hospital  1 night  2 nights 
Recovery time  7-10 days  2-3 weeks 
Long-term re-operation rate  5-10%  5% 
Follow up requirements Band adjustments are required until restriction is optimal Lifelong daily vitamin and mineral supplementation and regular blood tests 
Adjustability  Fully adjustable  No adjustment possible 
Reversibility  Fully reversible  Effectively irreversible 

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*Weight loss surgery results and benefits vary and are different for each individual. As such, Healthier Weight cannot guarantee specific weight loss goals.