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Bariatric care: Gastric banding surgery for weight loss

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A band wraps around the stomach.

The band makes a small pouch above the stomach. This limits the amount of food you can eat.
Illustration ©Allergan, Inc.

A view of inside of the digestive system with a lap band in place

The band is placed around the stomach and an access port is located under the skin of your abdomen. The doctor will use this port to tighten or loosen the gastric band.
Illustration ©Allergan, Inc.

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To start your weight loss surgery journey, attend a free surgery information class.

Adjustable gastric banding, commonly known as Lap-band® or Realize Band surgery, is surgery to limit the amount of food you can eat at one time. An adjustable band placed around your stomach creates a small pouch. Because the pouch can only hold a small amount of food, you feel satisfied faster and longer.

When you eat less, your body stops storing extra calories and instead uses fat reserves for energy. The result is gradual weight loss.

In general, patients lose:

  • 32 percent of their excess weight at one year post-operation
  • 30 percent of their excess weight at three years post-operation

A tube connects the band to an access port placed under the skin in your upper abdomen. The surgeon controls how much food the pouch can hold by changing the tightness of the band. A fine needle is placed in the access port and saline is added to or removed from the band.

  • If the band is too loose, weight loss is too slow because the food is entering the stomach too fast. The surgeon will make the band tighter by adding saline.
  • If the band is too tight, the surgeon will adjust the band removing some saline.

Gastric banding provides a way to combat hunger and overeating. This may sound like an easy answer but this surgery requires major, life-long changes in your eating habits, and your attitude about food, exercise and movement habits.

Every day you will need to make the right food and exercise choices. If you do not choose well, this surgery will not help control obesity.

Are there risks to laparoscopic band surgery?

This surgery does carry risks. Possible complications include infection, bleeding, blood clots, narrowing of your pouch, anesthesia risks, hernia and ulcers. Death from weight loss surgery is a risk but it is not common.

Please discuss potential risks with your surgeon.

What happens during recovery?

You will need to commit to a lifestyle of healthful eating and regular exercise for the rest of your life. This will help you avoid re-gaining weight and help you manage your health.

Bioentrics® LAP-BAND® system


©2002 Spotlight Health

This animation of the Bioentrics® LAP-BAND® system illustrates these steps:

  1. The LAP-BAND system surgery is minimally invasive and uses small incisions and long-shafted, narrow instruments.
  2. The LAP-BAND is inserted into the abdomen through one of the incisions and placed around the upper stomach to creat a small pouch and restrcited stomach outlet.
  3. Saline solution is injected using a fine needle through the LAP-BAND System access port located under the skin. Saline travels up to the band through the attached tubing.
  4. The inner surface of the band is inflated with saline, and the stomach outlet becomes smaller.
  5. The small stomach pouch controls the amount of food you eat, while the restricted stomach outlet slows down the passage of food into the lower stomach.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Gastric Banding: A Guide for Patients, surg-unity-94138
Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts
First Published: 10/24/2008
Last Reviewed: 10/24/2008