A gastric band, also known as a laparoscopic adjustable gastric band or lap band, is an inflatable device made of silicone that is placed around the higher portion of the stomach to help treat obesity. Gastric band treatment can help aide weight loss if you are very overweight (also known as morbidly obese). This can be determined through a very simple BMI (Body Mass Index) calculation.
In the UK, the average cost of gastric band surgery is between £7,000 and £8,000. However, certain clinics and private medical firms do offer deals and offers and some UK companies offer a more affordable service, with the cheapest treatment costing an average of £4,895. Numerous hospitals also offer payment plans, where (if you qualify) a customer can pay for their surgery in monthly installments.
You can consult our gastric band surgery frequently asked questions page for answers to any questions you might have about the procedure itself, the build-up to the day of surgery or the recovery process.
The band itself is an inflatable circular tube which a surgeon ties round the top of the stomach to create a smaller pouch which can typically hold around 4-8 ounces of food in each meal. The band can be inflated and deflated as necessary using a small access port placed just under the patient's skin.
Essentially, this helps to manage the patient's weight by restricting the amount of food they can physically consume as it takes a long time for the food to move from the pouch to the lower part of the stomach.
Gastric bands have become an increasingly popular means of treating obesity, and are one of the most popular forms of bariatric (weight-loss) surgery in the UK. Gastric band surgery has a quick recovery time and the band can be removed should there be any complications. The overall safety of the procedure, in comparison to other forms of bariatric surgery, makes it one of the most popular forms of weight loss surgery.
Many clinics, private practices and even third party companies offer a variety of finance options to help prospective weight loss surgery patients pay for their treatment. A wide variety of clinics based across the UK offer 0% interest loans, buy now pay later schemes and bespoke cosmetic monthly payment plans to help patients fund their surgery.
However,as with any form of financing agreement, it is advised patients discuss their options with a financial adviser before committing to any scheme or payment plan. Many clinics will require a credit check before agreeing on funding for a procedure.
In some cases, even if patients have a poor credit rating it still may be possible to apply for loans from third party lenders albeit at a higher interest rate.
It is possible to get a gastric band on the NHS. However, your NHS consultant will advise you a gastric band should only be considered as a final option. They will not treat patients who are looking to loose a considerable amount of weight unless they have tried a variety of other weight loss methods including diet and exercise.
It is important to remember, however, that this may be an unattractive option to many patients as waiting lists can stretch to anywhere between two and three years.
Surgery may be made available to you through the NHS if:
With the average cost of lap band procedures in the UK so high, it is little surprise many people choose to travel abroad for surgery.
Countries such as Spain, Brussels, Mexico and even India offer gastric bands at exceptionally low prices compared to the UK, with surgery costing as little as £3,400 in some countries.
It isn't too difficult to see why more and more people are going abroad for their operation.
However, it is important to consider what will happen if something was to go wrong with your surgery or recovery. If you have not taken out the correct insurance the cost could increase significantly as a result of follow up treatments and/or additional medication. The trip could end up costing more than a procedure in the UK if you do not think about every possibility before you make the decision.
It is therefore advised that prospective medical tourism patients conduct thorough research beforehand on their clinic and surgeon. It is also advised patients find out what after-care is included in the initial cost and whether their travel insurance policy will cover the cost of any complications that might be encountered whilst abroad.
It is also recommended prospective travellers take in to account various other costs likely to be arise when receiving treatment abroad, such as flights, accommodation and transport before making the decision to undergo cosmetic surgery in another country.
Before surgery can take place, and to ensure post procedure care and support is at hand, the patient will need to be assessed. A team of people known as a multidisciplinary team (MDT) usually consisting of a surgeon, anaesthetist, dietitian, psychologist, gastroenterologist and a specialist weight loss nurse work together to assess suitability.
The assessment can sometimes consist of three stages:
When the anaesthetic wears off, the patient is likely to feel some pain at the site of the surgery. This is perfectly normal and will pass within a few days. The patient will feel swollen and sore for around the first 24 hours and a small amount of liquids is advised.
The specialist weight loss nurse advises the patient on integrating small amounts of solid food back into the diet and will be the patient's first point of contact after surgery.
Approximately four to six weeks after surgery, the band can be adjusted by inflating it with sterile salt water (saline) adjusting the constriction of the pouch. This is usually done with a local anaesthetic and using an x-ray to locate the band.
It may be a few weeks or months before a patient can resume normal activities and, as with all procedures, it will take several days to recover from the anaesthetic.
Gastric band surgery closes off a section of your stomach making the volume of the remaining section much smaller, generally around the quarter of the size of a standard stomach. This means after the procedure you will have to eat less food, and what you consume must be eaten more slowly. Your doctor will give you detailed information about what foods you can and can't eat and failure to follow the guidelines can prevent the surgery from working as the remaining stomach pouch will be stretched.
For the first couple of weeks after surgery you won't be able to eat solid food at all and will need to consume foods such as soup and pureed meals. Because you will only have around a quarter of your stomach available, you will feel full very quickly and will need to eat food slowly in order to adapt to this. After a couple of weeks patients can start adding in solid food, starting with soft foods such as mashed potato. During this time you should experience the most rapid phase of weight loss.
After the first six months you will be able to eat most solid foods although some dry foods may cause discomfort. However, there will still be certain rules which govern your diet including; taking between 20 and 30 minutes to eat a meal, stopping eating as soon as you no longer feel hungry, and eating six small meals a day rather than three larger ones. You should also focus on eating protein and vegetables to help your body gain all the nutrients it requires from a smaller quantity of food.
Gastric bands can be removed at any time if required, however the intention is that they are kept in permanently as removal can result in weight gain. If the band does need to be removed then the operation is generally carried out as a keyhole procedure.
The possible complications experienced whilst undergoing gastric band surgery can include:
All surgeries carry a risk, however the patient's MDT will be able to provide all relevant information prior to surgery and when making a final decision.