All About Gastric Banding

Gastric banding, also known as laparoscopic gastric banding, is a weight loss surgery that involves placing a small band around the upper part of the stomach. This stomach band for weight loss restricts the amount of food that can be eaten at one time which leads to weight loss.

January 17, 2023

Who Qualifies for Gastric Band Surgery?

Gastric banding is typically reserved for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. It is used as an option for people who have been unable to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. Because it is a surgical procedure, it carries significant risks and should not be used as the first-line choice for attempts at weight loss.  

Details of the Gastric Band Surgery

The surgery is typically performed laparoscopically, meaning it is done using small incisions and special instruments. The surgeon will place the band around the upper part of the stomach and secure it in place using suture material. The band is connected to a small tube that is tunneled under the skin and is used to adjust the size of the band. 

Gastric Band Surgery

After the surgery, the patient will follow a special diet and dietary guidelines to help them adjust to the new restrictions in their stomach. This typically involves starting with liquids and gradually adding in soft, easy-to-digest foods. The patient will also be given dietary guidelines to follow, such as avoiding high-fat and high-sugar foods and eating slowly to allow the pouch to fill up.

Pros and Cons of Gastric Banding for Weight Loss

One of the advantages of a stomach band for weight loss is that it is reversible, meaning the band can be removed if necessary. It is also less invasive than other weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, which involve more significant changes to the stomach and intestines. This method is purely a “restrictive” form of weight loss, meaning it only restricts food intake by allowing less room in the stomach. Unlike some other surgical alternatives for weight loss, it does not decrease the capacity of the stomach or small intestines to absorb food, or lead to significant hormonal changes that alter hunger and cravings.

However, gastric banding for weight loss does have some potential risks and complications specific to its goal of restricting food intake. These can include band erosion, where the band wears away or moves out of place, leading to reduced effectiveness in weight control. Pouch dilation, where the pouch becomes stretched and unable to restrict food intake effectively, can also occur. Other potential complications include infection, bleeding, and allergic reactions to the band material, all of which can impact the success of the weight loss endeavor.

Lap Band Complications

If you're exploring weight loss options, consider looking into online weight loss clinics like Mochi Health that offer personalized and non-surgical approaches to weight management.

Alternatives to Gastric Banding

In the last several years, gastric banding has become less popular as compared to other weight loss surgery options, like sleeve gastrectomy, or weight loss medications. This is due to the fact that sleeve gastrectomy both restricts the amount of food that can be consumed and leads to hormone changes that curb hunger. These benefits can lead to greater success with sleeve gastrectomy versus gastric banding.

Weight Loss Medication as an Alternative to Gastric Banding

Gastric banding is a surgical option to treat weight loss. However, there are alternatives to surgery, such as medication management and weight loss programs. 

GLP-1 medications have recently shown great clinical trial success with weight loss in patients with obesity. These medications are generally well-tolerated and most patients see results within a few months of starting the medication. 

Online weight-loss programs are also an option for comprehensive weight loss. A recent study found that participants enrolled in a year-long online weight-loss program lost at least 5-10% of their original body mass index (BMI) after the program, with many participants losing 15% of their BMI. These programs offer individualized support to create a weight-loss strategy that works for you. 

Mochi Health is an online weight-loss program that offers both lifestyle coaching for weight loss and medication management with licensed medical providers. The flexibility to meet doctors and nutritionists online in 1-on-1 video visits offers a convenient and effective option for you to manage your health.

To learn more about the weight-loss medication options, visit our medications page at Mochi Health. 

Final Thoughts 

In summary, gastric banding can be an effective weight loss tool for people who meet the criteria for the surgery and have not been able to lose weight through conventional diet and exercise alone. It can help people lose a significant amount of weight and improve their overall health and quality of life. However, it is important for patients to understand that surgery is only one part of the weight loss journey and that other surgical options may be more effective and preferred by bariatric surgeons in the modern day. Long-term weight loss and maintenance, even after a weight loss surgery, requires a commitment to healthy lifestyle changes, including regular exercise and a healthy diet.

How Mochi Health Can Help 

If you are interested in an alternative method of assisted weight loss, like weight loss medications, Mochi Health can help! You can find our physicians here, where you can learn more about what options exist for you that don’t require going “under the knife”. With all of the effective medications for weight loss on the market today, many patients are exploring other options before considering surgery.

Dr. Eva Shelton, M.D.

Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Back to blogs