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Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What do I need to know about adjustable gastric band surgery?

Gastric banding is a type of weight loss surgery. An adjustable band is placed around the top part of your stomach. This divides the stomach into one small pouch and one large pouch. Food collects in the small pouch when you eat. You will feel full quickly because the pouch is very small. An opening in the smaller pouch allows food to pass into the larger pouch. Between meals, the food moves slowly into the larger pouch and is digested normally. Your healthcare provider can tighten or loosen the band as needed after the surgery.

Gastric Band

What do I need to know before I have an adjustable gastric band?

  • You will work closely with a dietitian before and after surgery. Your dietitian will talk to you about nutrition and what you should eat and drink before and after surgery. You may need to follow a very low-calorie diet for several weeks before surgery. This will help you lose some weight before surgery. Weight loss will help your liver handle anesthesia better. It will also help you create healthy nutrition and activity habits.
  • Your surgeon will talk to you about self-care and follow-up activities you will need after surgery. You will need to come in often to have your progress checked. Your band may need to be tightened or loosened during each visit.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, your surgeon will talk to you about pregnancy. He or she may recommend that you do not get pregnant for 12 to 18 months after surgery. Then your pregnancy will be monitored for your safety and the safety of your baby. Your band will need to be adjusted during pregnancy. This helps your baby get enough calories and nutrition to develop properly. If you want to prevent pregnancy, healthcare providers will help you choose the right kind of birth control.

How do I prepare for surgery?

  • Your surgeon will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home after you are discharged.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon about all your allergies, including to anesthesia or antibiotics. You may be given an antibiotic to help prevent a bacterial infection.
  • You may need a fasting blood test to check your lipid (fat) levels, or other blood tests. Your heart may be checked to make sure it is healthy enough for surgery. You may also need tests to check your digestive system.
  • If you have diabetes, healthcare providers will help you schedule meals and medicines before surgery. Your A1c level may also be checked.
  • If you currently use tobacco products, you will need to quit before you have surgery. It is best to quit at least 1 year before surgery. You must quit at least 6 weeks before surgery. Talk to your surgeon or other healthcare providers if you need help quitting.

What will happen during surgery?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your surgeon will make small incisions in your abdomen. He or she will place the gastric band around the top part of your stomach. The gastric band may be attached to stomach tissue to hold it in place.
  • An injection port will be under your skin. Healthcare providers can use the port to add or remove saline (salt water) to make the band tighter or looser. The incisions will be closed with stitches or medical tape.

What should I expect after surgery?

  • You will be helped to walk around after surgery to help prevent blood clots.
  • Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain, nausea, or a bacterial infection.
  • You will sip water or chew on ice chips after surgery when your healthcare provider says it is okay. The next step is to drink clear liquids. Examples of clear liquids are broth, gelatin, and clear juice. You may only be able to eat a few teaspoons of food at the beginning. Stop eating when you feel full, even if you have food left on your plate.

What are the risks of gastric band surgery?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. You may develop a life-threatening blood clot. Your esophagus or other organs may be injured during surgery. The gastric band may slip out of place, break, or leak. The band may scar or erode (move) into the stomach tissue. You may need a larger incision than expected during laparoscopic surgery. After surgery, you may not lose any weight. You may lose weight and then gain it back.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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