Gastric Banding: How it Works

Gastric banding is a weight loss surgery that involves placing a small band around the upper part of the stomach. Gastric banding surgery is performed laparoscopically

January 17, 2023

Gastric banding is a weight loss surgery that involves placing a small band around the upper part of the stomach. The band creates a small pouch at the top of the stomach, which restricts the amount of food that can be eaten at one time. As a result, people who undergo gastric banding feel fuller faster and eat less, leading to weight loss.


Who usually gets gastric banding? 

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 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 

One of the advantages of gastric banding 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.  


Gastric banding does have some potential risks and complications. These can include band erosion, where the band begins to wear away or move out of place, and pouch dilation, where the pouch becomes stretched and unable to restrict food intake effectively. Other potential complications include infection, bleeding, and allergic reactions to the band material.  


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. Learn more about sleeve gastrectomy in another blog post! 


Final Thoughts 

In summary, gastric banding can be an effective weight loss tool for people who meet 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 the 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

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