The Side Effects Of Gastric Band Surgery

Are Gastric Bands Safe?

As gastric bands restrict the patient's eating, new and healthier eating habits are more easily formed and adopted. Therefore, gastric band surgery is considered a safe and effective long term procedure. Moreover, as gastric bands are relatively easy to fit, there is very little chance of any damage to the patient's stomach or other abdominal organs. The band is also very easily removed, and any adjusting such as tightening, can be carried out simply and quickly and with very little discomfort.

What Is The Success Rate For Gastric Band Surgery?

Success rates are high with gastric band surgery. On average, 90% of patients lose between half and two thirds of their excess weight. However, it's important to be aware that the success rate of the surgery is dependent on the patient, and long term lifestyle changes are necessary if you want to enjoy the full health benefits of the surgery. Success can be reduced by continuing to eat when you feel full, resulting in vomiting, digestive discomfort and other possible complications.

How Much Weight Can A Patient Lose?

Watch Mr Chris Sutton, Consultant Specialist Bariatric Surgeon at Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd, explain how much weight gastric band patients can hope to lose as a result of their surgery:


Video Transcript

"A gastric band average weight loss is around 50% of the patient’s excess weight. That’s any weight a patient is carrying above Body Mass Index, 25 for their height, so obviously the amount of weight will be different depending on the size of the patient. That’s average weight loss, patients could do better, could do worse."

Mr Chris Sutton, Consultant Specialist Bariatric Surgeon at Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd


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Post Surgery Side Effects

The process in which a gastric band is fitted is quite an advanced method. The band itself is fitted to the upper area of the stomach through laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, so the incisions themselves are minute. Scars are minimal, however if complications incur, larger incisions may have to be made resulting in larger scar tissue areas. The procedure carried out only takes an approximate time of one hour, however the patient has to be anaesthetised. As with any procedure that involves anaesthetic, the patient will experience side effects of impaired co-ordination and reasoning skills, and will have to stay in hospital for a short period of time post operation.

Many patients will be advised to undertake a pre operational diet in order to shrink the liver, allowing more room for the surgeon to work on the stomach. If this diet is not stuck to complications may evolve and potentially cause the surgery to go wrong. This in turn can lead to an extended operating time and further bruising and swelling on top of the initial expected side effects. Stitches are made to finish the surgery and if these are not dissolvable, they will need to be removed in forthcoming weeks.

What Are The Risks?

Before weight loss surgery can take place, it may put the patient's mind at rest to know that an assessment will be carried out by a multidisciplinary team (MDT). This medical team is made up of a surgeon, anaesthetist, dietician, specialist weight loss surgical nurse, a psychologist and a gastroenterologist. All have specialist knowledge of gastric band surgery and can therefore alert you to any potential risks you may face, both during and after the procedure.

High Risk Groups

Being excessively overweight (morbidly obese) increases the patients chance of complications but other contributing factors are:

  • Being over 45
  • High blood pressure
  • Having a BMI (body mass index) of over 50
  • Being male
  • Previously having a blood clot

Here, Mr Chris Sutton, Consultant Specialist Bariatric Surgeon at Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd, outlines the risks associated with gastric band surgery:


Video Transcript

"Gastric band, I guess other than bleeding and infection which is a risk with all surgery, the main risk of having a band placed is slippage. We are very careful, we fix the band above, below, and behind and that has resulted in extremely low slippage rate with us."

Mr Chris Sutton, Consultant Specialist Bariatric Surgeon at Tonic Weight Loss Surgery Ltd


Long Term Minor Complications

healthy living

  • Around 5% of patients develop an infection after surgery. This is easily treated with antibiotics if recognised quickly. Chest infections can also occur after surgery especially if you smoke.
  • Losing weight too quickly can cause a patient to develop gallstones (small cholesterol stones which form in the gallbladder). These can be very painful and surgery may be required to remove them.
  • During the procedure complications may occur such as injury to major organs, the spleen or the stomach. The surgical procedure may then have to change to an open surgery as opposed to keyhole in order to rectify these problems.
  • Approximately 10% of patients may need to have a gastric band replaced. This can be due to leakage, deflation, the band slipping out of place or working its way slowly through the patients stomach wall. Symptoms can include vomiting, heartburn and nausea.
  • Around 1 in 35 patients can develop an intolerance to different foods. In extreme cases the gastric band may need to be removed and a gastric bypass operation may be recommended.
  • Around 12-18 months after surgery patients may notice excess skin around the tummy, hips, limbs and breasts. This is due to the skin stretching over many years and losing its elasticity.
  • Psychosocial issues can also arise. However, your MDT psychologist will be available to discuss any problems prior to surgery. After the procedure support may also be needed to maintain a steady weight loss as a rapid loss can have psychological and social effects due to various factors surrounding food, family and relationships.
  • Possible Major Complications

    Around 1 in 500 patients are at the risk of death following a gastric band operation. This is usually due to a blood clot (pulmonary embolism), internal bleeding, infection, heart attack or a stroke. For patients with the above contributing factors, the figure can be as high as 1 in 40.

    Blood clots are an uncommon complication but these can occur after surgery. A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops inside the leg. If untreated, the clot can travel to the major organs causing death. A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that develops inside the lung. This causes serious breathing difficulties and then death.

    Patients may be given herapin (blood thinning medication) or compression stockings to wear to reduce their chance of getting a clot.

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