Gastric Banding FAQ

The gastric band is a very common weight loss procedure. Read the following gastric banding FAQ to find out more about this treatment.

How much weight will I lose?

Weight loss results following gastric band surgery vary. The national average weight loss is 50% of the excess body weight over an 18-24 month period.

Will I lose weight quickly?

Weight loss following placement of a gastric band continues for 18-24 months and is generally slower than other, more invasive, bariatric procedures. Band adjustments will be made at stages following placement in order to ensure that it stays effective and helps with individual weight loss goals.

Will my band fill hurt?

A ‘fill’ is carried out by inserting a needle through your skin into the port which is placed in your upper abdomen close to your rib cage. It can be uncomfortable but should not be painful.

What if I am still very hungry after the band is in place?

The placement of the band puts pressure on the nerves at the top of your stomach which sends signals to your brain to indicate that your stomach is full. Some people do experience hunger until the band is adjusted to the optimum level.

What are the potential problems after surgery?

After eating, your body will tell you if it is unhappy with the consistency and type of food that you have consumed.
In terms of more serious complications, although these are unlikely, you need to be made aware of them. They include, but are not limited to:

General Complications

  • Allergic Reactions: From minor reactions such as rash to sudden overwhelming reactions
  • Anaesthetic Complications: Anaesthesia used to put you to sleep for the operation can be associated with variety of complications. The anaesthetist will discuss anaesthetic risks with you
  • Bleeding: From minor to massive bleeding that can lead to the need for blood transfusion and/or emergency surgery
  • Blood Clots: Also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolus (PE) that can sometimes cause stroke, heart attack, loss of limb and death
  • Infection: Including wound infections, bladder infections, pneumonia and deep abdominal infections

Specific Complications

  • Band Slippage: This can be caused by persistent vomiting and making the wrong food choices. If the band has slipped you may experience nausea and vomiting, pain and indigestion symptoms. We would arrange tests to confirm this diagnosis and the band can be deflated and either moved or removed. It is important that you follow the dietary guidelines given to you to reduce this risk.
  • Band Obstruction: If the food you eat is too large and solid it may be unable to pass through the band into the lower part of the stomach, causing an obstruction. If you experience pain after eating food of the wrong consistency it may take a day or so before the symptoms settle. In this case you must take plenty of fluids to help the food to break down. Similarly, if your band is too tight, food may be unable to pass through the band into your stomach. In this case you need to contact the hospital as soon as possible to arrange to have it adjusted.
  • Pouch Dilatation: Increasing your portion size can stretch the stomach pouch causing a dilatation. If this happens your stomach capacity will increase and the restriction you initially felt will reduce, which may mean that you start to regain weight. This will have to investigated and resolved.
  • Erosion: In rare cases a gastric ulcer can form in the stomach on the inner side of the band. This can be caused if the band is over-inflated and it must be removed. If you experience gastric irritation please discuss this with the bariatric specialist nurse.
  • Access port Problems: The access port may take an abnormal position rendering difficult access, or the tubing to the band may kink or leak. These events, though rare, may require surgical adjustment.

Can the band be removed?

Bariatric surgery is never carried out with the intention of reversing the procedure. Band removal is only carried out when clinically necessary or when the patient requests that it be removed. Patients must make a lifelong commitment to their band to help achieve a successful outcome.