Gastric Banding


Catherine Spader, RN

What is gastric banding?

Gastric banding is a surgery that can help adults and some adolescents who are very obese (morbidly obese) achieve significant weight loss. Gastric banding reduces the size of the stomach and restricts the amount of food you can eat. It involves attaching an inflatable band around the top portion of the stomach and tightening it like a belt. This forms a small pouch that functions as a smaller stomach. The band is attached to a port that is implanted in your abdominal wall under the skin.  

Gastric banding can be a life-saving treatment option for people whose obesity seriously threatens their health. It can help resolve diseases associated with obesity, including type 2 diabetes, and can lower the risk of heart disease.

Candidates for gastric banding include those who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight using diet, exercise, behavioral and nutritional counseling, and medication. 

Gastric banding is only one part of a complete plan that includes a lifelong commitment to healthy dietary and exercise habits, vitamin supplementation, and regular follow-up care. You may have less invasive treatment options with less risk of complications. Ask your doctor about all your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before having gastric banding. 

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Types of gastric banding

Gastric banding is commonly known by many names, including adjustable gastric banding, AGB, LAP-BAND® surgery, and gastric band surgery. Brand names of gastric banding products include:

  • Realize™ Band
  • Swedish Adjustable Gastric Band (SAGB)

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may perform other procedures in addition to gastric banding, such as vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG). 

VBG is a major surgical procedure that combines gastric banding with stomach stapling. A small stomach pouch is created with surgical staples, leaving a dime-sized opening at the bottom. A band of plastic tissue or mesh is wrapped around the opening to help prevent the opening from stretching. This helps you feel fuller longer by allowing food to stay in the stomach longer. 

VBG is generally not as effective as other weight loss surgeries. It also has a higher rate of complications compared to adjustable gastric banding (AGB). 

Why is gastric banding performed? 

Your doctor may recommend gastric banding to treat obesity and reduce the risk of life-threatening complications of obesity. These include diabetes, heart disease, and severe sleep apnea. 

Gastric banding is not a treatment option for people who are mildly overweight. It is generally considered for adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. This means being approximately 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women. Some people who are less obese with a BMI of about 35 to 39.9 and have serious weight-related health problems may have gastric banding. 

Gastric banding may be an option when treatments that involve less risk and fewer complications have not worked to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Other treatments include diet, exercise, behavioral and nutritional counseling, and medication. People typically need a psychological evaluation prior to the surgery. 

Ask your doctor about all of your treatment options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on gastric banding.

Who performs gastric banding?

A general surgeon or bariatric surgeon performs gastric banding. General surgeons specialize in the surgical treatment of a variety of diseases and conditions, including those of the stomach and intestines. Bariatric surgeons are usually general surgeons who further specialize in weight-loss surgery.

How is gastric banding performed?

Your gastric banding will be performed in a hospital or surgery clinic. It is usually an outpatient laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive technique that uses small incisions instead of a large incision made in open surgery. 

A small camera attached to the laparoscope sends pictures of the inside of the body to a video screen. Your surgeon sees the pictures while performing the surgery. 

Laparoscopic gastric banding generally has a faster recovery time and less pain than an open gastric banding procedure. This is because it causes less trauma to tissues. Surgical tools are threaded