Overweight: Is Gastric Banding Surgery for You?

Amelia Phillips

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There is an increased trend for the overweight to resort to invasive methods such as lap-band surgery to help overcome their obesity battle. However, will undergoing surgery to increase the feeling of fullness lead to permanent weight loss, or is it another method that bypasses the true solution to this growing problem?

What is Gastric band surgery?

Lap-band (or laparoscopic adjustable gastric band) surgery is an operation for people with a Body mass Index (BMI) greater than 35 (Click here to determine your BMI) whereby an inflatable band is inserted around the top portion of your stomach with a cord and valve that gets positioned under your skin so that the band can be inflated or deflated. It works by being placed in a location that has nerve endings that tell your brain how full you feel. When food enters the top section of your stomach (about 30ml or 1/8 cup), the pressure on the band stimulates these nerves to tell your brain you are full, hopefully preventing you from wanting to eat more. It does not cut out any part of your digestive system or bypass anything and can be easily reversed if needed. Lap-band surgery slows down the entry of food into your stomach, making you feel full faster and for longer. Once the food has passed the restricted area, the stomach remains its normal size and digestion continues as usual.

You can see a video of the procedure here. Warning, the second part of the video is real footage and should not be watched whilst eating red meat!

There is a lot of stigma about lap-band surgery. Many happy customers have enjoyed the great results from lap-band therapy, including British TV presenter Fern Britton (click here to view her 2 minute chat). However, it is evident that it can be viewed as a ‘cheaters’ way to fat loss, or an extreme measure and sign of weakness of will.

If obesity is causing major health issues and other weight loss measures have failed, then lap-band therapy should be seen as a good solution. In fact 3 in 4 type 2 diabetes sufferers recover in full from their diabetes following surgery, and sleep apnoea suffers are almost always cured. It is not always a successful operation though, and about 44 in 100 patients have to go back for more operations usually because the band has slipped, they feel sick, or they aren’t losing enough weight. Other complications include;

  • Burping after eating
  • Infections
  • Abscesses
  • Feeling sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn

Would you do it (or recommend it to someone)?

Before you answer that question, be aware of a few more things;

  • The operation will only succeed if you change your eating patterns and exercise more, so if your previous attempts to lose weight failed because you didn’t stick to your diet and exercise program, then this probably won’t work.
  • If you overeat due to emotional reasons, rather than because you get hungry all the time, or if even when you feel full, you still eat, then it probably won’t work.
  • Liquids still pass through very quickly so if you drink a lot of high sugar/calorie drinks, then it probably won’t work.

It’s a tough one isn’t it? On one hand, if someone has serious health issues like type 2 diabetes then this could be a life saver, but on the other hand, if they don’t follow a diet and exercise regime after the operation, it could have no effects or worsen their health. As with most weight loss discussions, the beginning point should be getting a person’s head right. Answering the hard questions about why they over eat, and putting support mechanisms in place will set them up for not only weight loss but also a happier outlook on life. However, if these avenues have been exhausted and the person is extremely unhealthy, then there might be a place for lap band surgery after all.

What are your thoughts on lap band surgery? Is it cheating, or a helping hand?

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30 responses to “Overweight: Is Gastric Banding Surgery for You?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Would recommend it? Absolutely!
    Is it an easy way out? Absolutely Not!
    It’s hard work and can be frustrating when you have to watch what you eat. Some things you can never eat again due to pain and risk of blockage. The only time I wouldn’t recommend this procedure is when a person is comfort eating to smoother pain or abuse from the past. Those people can go from one addiction to another i.e drinking so they don’t have to face it. After working out for 2 years at the gym and seeing little change I had the operation and haven’t regretted it once.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi kaylie

    Thank you for your comments, I found your point of view to be very refreshing. I have seen this operation work for some very close friends of mine with fantastic results. People who think this is an easy way out or cheating are just arrogant. We are all built different, some of us dont have to work very hard at all to maintain our weight whereas others will always struggle. People should view the lap bands as a tool to help not the magic answer to all there problems. The Sydney Private (SIOS) hospital offer an excellent program that includes monthly follow ups for a twelve month period with a dietician and a psychologist. With this tool and these experts help I think these poor people who have always struggled can finally get the help they need.


  3. Affiliate Marketing Tips says:

    I hope this treatment will have no side effects on health in future.

  4. I think this is just silly, losing weight should be hard work, and it is hard work. There are no easy ways out.

  5. Hi Kaylie,
    Thank you so much for your insightful comments about gastric banding. It’s great to hear it from the perspective of someone who has gone through the entire procedure. Losing weight can be a life long struggle for many, and when all efforts have failed, I think it’s a realistic solution for many. In doing the research for this article, I was surprised to see the high levels of complications some people face, so as you mentioned, this is not an easy option, it can sometimes be very painful.
    You also mentioned that people who eat to cover pain or abuse may not be helped by this operation, and I think that is very poignant. Although it can help many people, there are some who it can’t help.
    Thanks for sharing,

  6. Hi Affiliate marketing tips,

    So far the long term side effects of gastric banding are positive. In fact it has much better health outcomes than gastric bypass surgery, where literally large parts of the digestive system were being bypassed to assist in weight loss. This led to poor absorption of crucial vitamins and nutrients to the body.
    Thankfully this hasn’t been an issue for gastric banding.

  7. Hi Fedya,

    My initial thoughts of gastric banding were the same as yours. I feared that many would see it as a lazy way of losing weight. But the more research did into it, the more a saw a place for it in many cases.
    I think it is crucial that all other weight loss avenues are fully explored before such an invasive operation. Namely major dieting and exercise.
    I also think potential users need to understand the severity of such an operation and the high chance of complications.
    The best candidates are those who have exhausted all other avenues, and who have serious health complications (such as diabetes).
    Remember weight loss is not just about decreasing ones size, it’s about taking a new found respect for ones body and treating it appropriately with correct eating and exercise. Only then can one start to feel the long lasting effects of a healthy body and motivated mind.

  8. Jan Gilyeat says:

    I don’t think it’s cheating – but it is certainly an extreme measure and has it’s share of risks. A new one I’ve just recently seen is a gastric gel that you ingest in a glass of watter and within minutes it congeals to give you a feeling of being very full. These all seem like ways to overcome excess weight when other methods have failed. In the end, I think it’s important to know your own body, be realistic in what you can accomplish and to do so with a large degree of care and reasonableness.

  9. Hi Jan,
    In theory a gastric gel to ingest sounds like a good idea. Much less serious. I just question how disciplined the person would be to drink that instead of a maccas thickshake!

  10. Felix says:

    I was quite against these types of procedures until I saw the Australian Story special with Mikey Robbins. The doco opened my eyes to the possibilities. However, lifestyle changes can be a great help before having to take this route.
    Thanks for the article,

  11. Hi Felix,
    Yes Mikey Robbins is looking incredible! There is no doubt that this treatment works for some, so long as people are aware that it is by no way an ‘easy’ solution to weight loss – is anything???

  12. Matsmurfen says:

    Is there an easier way? Yes, there is! It’s called Low Carb, or more preferable LCHF, Low Carb High Fat. You can eat yourself down in weight – without any (upper) restiction to calories consumed, or being hungry!

    This link tells you why the LCHF-diet must be high fat and not high protein, and it’s also worth reading for other reasons, it’s tells you how the body supplies fuel to the cells.


    Amelia wrote somewhere about low carb: “It’s not worth the pain and anguish you will put loved ones through. You might look good, but you’ll be a cranky bugger!”

    This is not true! There might be a small period for a week or two before the body have changed to use ketones (and fat!) as fuel, but after that you should be back on track like never before. She (you) have obviously not tried it.

  13. […] health is so important to you. Yes revisit the four questions, but I’d suggest looking on you tube at a gastric band operation, or looking at some older friends with health issues relating to their weight. Re motivate yourself […]

  14. Amiee says:

    hey well i have mixed feelings about it.
    i know 3 people who have had it done…
    the first one didnt even need it, and the doctors allowed her to get it and she lived off fluids, including alcohol…. she then had a mini heart attack, ended up in hospital and they had to remove it..
    the second… she went from a size 26 to a size 12 but is now back up to a size 18 because she didnt change her mind set and is still happy to eat cakes, even if at a little at a time etc…
    the third, i just actually met tonight… a 63 yr old man at my gym who came up to me at the end of the class and asked for tips, secrets etc on weight loss, nutrition and fitness, after seeing my results…
    he had it done earlier this yr, he lost 21kgs but has hit a platto for the last few months and cant seem to loose any more weight.
    however when talking with him, although im not a PT or nutritionist… but purely from what ive learnt on a personal level and from two of THE BEST trainers ever…. i asked him what he eats etc… and when, and also how much exercise hes doing… for him its clearly a quantity and mind thing… he still believes he can eat 2 servings even though it will go through him, he agreed its a mental thing, and he wants to change it… so i suggested a couple of small achievable goals etc to help him and a couple of tips… but really his nutritiont and pyschologist as part of the process is clearly not assisting him in all the ways they should …. but he also has to take responsibility as its his mind, his choices, and his life….

    there is a friend of my dads who was way over 200kgs, he tried a couple of different operations or things, even had someone sponsor him to help, but ultimately he didnt have the consistency and committment and only got so far and then not so far….

    overall i think if it is due to medical reasons that the need it… then they should… BUT in my opinion, if there is no medical reasons, and people are just lazy and making bad choices, i say try hard work, nutrition change, mindset change, apply committment, dedication and consistency and start living the life of change that they want!

    i personally have lost a fairly big amount of weight, in a relatively short amount of time due to hard work, a mind set change and nutrition on track… all natural ways… its the best way in my opinion, with no side effects besides weight loss, healthy living, happier in life and becoming the best me i can be 🙂

    i believe if some people out there put as much time and effort into themselves and their personal body, as much as some do their cars, then theyd be set….
    afterall, if u put the wrong fuel in the wrong car, what happens???

    ultimately weight loss is hard work and it scares people… but id rather work hard to get results and get life back on track, then be too scared to try…

    definitely try ALL resources before seeking it. and people need to remember THE POWER OF THE MIND is sooo important… make a mental change, assess emotions, reasons for eating etc and all other emotional links, see a PT, psych etc whatever needed, if needed, and MAKE THE CHANGE!


  15. Amiee,

    I think you are right, unless you make the changes in your head as well as your lifestyle, lap band surgery is not going to help you all the way, it may get you out of the ‘danger zone’ but not reaching your full potential. Thanks for your insightful comments.

  16. Angi says:

    Hello is there anyone out there that has had the lap band done and in general feels like crap? I do. I had my placed in July of 2007. I at first lost 50 pounds because I was having trouble keeping fills. I was always getting inflammation with the band. Now that the problem with that is over I only have1.50 cc in and I am gaining weight back and just feel icky all the time. I never felt this way before I had the band in. Let me know if anyone else is in this same boat.

  17. Angi says:

    Also by the way I have slight chest pains but have had all test done on myself and my heart is fine. I think it is the band. It seems to always do that when I get more saline injected.

  18. Hi Angie,
    I am sorry I haven’t had it done so cannot help. I commend you for taking such a big step to improve your health and hope that you follow through and get it positioned just right so you feel better.

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