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A gastric band is an instrument used in gastric band surgery. Gastric band surgery is a common type of weight loss process for people who are extremely obese, so much so that it has become life-threating in most cases. The surgery is extremely serious and is not performed on just anyone.

The surgery involves putting the adjustable gastric band (ring) around the top of the stomach. It aims to make your stomach able to hold less food, meaning you eat less and feel fuller quickly.

How does a gastric band work?

A gastric band is a balloon that is circular in shape. It fits around the top section of the stomach, creating a pouch of stomach above the band.  When you eat, you get full quicker because the top part of the band fills up, making you less hungry after a small amount of food. The band acts a slowing agent for the food to reach the second/lower part of the stomach.

The surgeon can choose to tighten or loosen the gastric band by injecting liquid into a tube which is placed just under the skin. This tightening or loosening will affect how much and at what rate the food will pass into the lower part of the stomach.

If necessary, you can have the gastric band removed. However, it is designed to be a long term solution and its removal may result in weight gain or putting the weight lost, back on.

Research has shown that gastric bands can deliver incredible results. People usually lose around half of their excess weight in the first two to three years after having the surgery to have the gastric band fitted.

To see some before and after pictures of people who have had a gastric band, click here.

Who can have a gastric band?

A person can have a gastric band is they are very overweight or obese or if your weight is severely affecting your health. However, you will only qualify for a gastric band if every other means of weight loss has not worked and your doctor recognises this. The things you may have tried previously such as extreme diets, eating healthier, exercising and weight loss medicine.

If you doctor believes that weight loss surgery is a realistic option for you and could help you, he or she will refer you to a specialist obesity management service. To qualify for a gastric band, you will need to meet certain criteria. These typically include:

  • Be very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of over 40.
  • Have a BMI of over 35, as well as having a health condition that would potentially improve with the fitting of the band/ from weight loss, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • You must be fit enough in general to undergo the surgery and general anaesthetic.
  • You must prove you are committed to losing weight and additionally, keeping the weight off by combining the surgery and a much more healthy lifestyle.
  • You must be prepared to attend regular follow-up appointments with your GP.

If you meet this criteria above, you will be able to get gastric band surgery done on the NHS free of charge, depending on the availability in your local area. With the NHS there may be a long waiting period, so you may want to consider going private if this is an option for you. Going privately you will see the benefit of being seen quicker and you will get a private room.

Unfortunately, if you have a particular type of long-term health condition you may not be eligible for a gastric band. These long term health problems could include inflammatory bowel disease or heart disease, or even a psychological disorder. You will also not be entitled to a gastric band operation if you have previously had surgery done on your stomach area. It also is rarely done on children and teenagers, only in very rare cases is it recommended to be carried out on someone of a younger age.

For more information about getting a gastric band, feel free to contact us here.


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