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What is gastric band (or lap band) surgery?

This procedure is aimed at those looking to lose weight. It works by restricting the amount of food you can eat by minimising the size of the stomach, meaning you feel fuller quicker, eat less and therefore lose weight as time goes on.

Choosing to have a gastric band/lap band?

Many people choose to have the procedure in order to reduce their risk of obesity-related health issues.

If you are:

  • Classed as morbidly obese, with a BMI of 40+
  • Have a BMI of 30-40 and suffer from either heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes
  • Struggle to lose a lot of weight through traditional methods such as diet and exercise

Then you may wish to consider gastric band surgery.

What benefits does gastric band/lap band surgery have?

Alongside significant weight loss and a reduction in the risk of suffering from obesity-related health issue, other benefits include:

  • A long-term focus on healthy eating
  • Increased mobility
  • Increased levels of mental and physical wellbeing
  • A more positive outlook, for example better self-esteem and self-confidence

What does gastric band/lap band surgery entail?

A surgeon will place a band around the stomach which splits it into two parts (this can be adjusted at a later date). Food will be able to slowly pass between the two parts via a narrow opening before moving into the rest of the digestive system. The small stomach compartments mean that the patient feels fuller after eating less. As stated the band can be adjusted – whether it is adjusted or not will be determined by how much weight has been lost and over what period of time. If it does need to be adjusted, fluid will be injected into the band to tighten it. This is called a band fill.

What is the aftercare like?

Most patients can return home the same day or after spending just one night in hospital. Staff will ensure you are ready to return home and have all the relevant dietary information required before you are discharged.

Gastric balloons – a breakdown

A gastric balloon can also be referred to as an intragastric balloon, and it is a procedure that helps people to lose weight. This is achieved by inserting a balloon into the stomach, which means it is unable to hold as much food or drink as normal. As a result of this the patient feels fuller quicker, eats less and loses weight. The balloon itself is very small and soft, and sits inside the stomach. It is inserted via an endoscope – a flexible, thin telescope placed inside the mouth and into the stomach. The balloon is then filled with a saline solution that fills the stomach – leaving just enough room for small meals to be eaten before the patient feels full. A gastric balloon, however, is only a temporary method of weight loss and will be removed after 6 months. It is often used as a precursor to other forms of weight loss, like gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery.

Gastric balloons – the procedure

It is a short procedure with most patients able to leave hospital the same day or the day after the procedure. Usually lasting only 20 to 30 minutes long, the patient will be placed under sedation for this minor procedure. It may sometimes be the case that the balloon needs to be removed before the 6 month period. It can sometimes occur that it needs to be removed within the first few days, if the patient feels nauseous or is experiencing extreme vomiting with little sign of improvement. Hospital staff will provide information on aftercare and sometimes give dietary advice for a gastric balloon procedure.

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