All you need to know about gastric band removal

Written by: Mr Sanjay Agrawal
Published: | Updated: 03/02/2020
Edited by: Laura Burgess

The gastric band is made of silicon (plastic) and is supposed to stay around the stomach forever. There are a few circumstances, however, in which it may have to be removed. Mr Sanjay Agrawal is a consultant surgeon who specialises in bariatric (weight loss) surgery, and here he explains how a gastric band is removed, the reasons why and whether it’s safe enough to opt for a different bariatric procedure once it has been removed.

What reasons would require a gastric band to be removed?

In some cases, the gastric band may have to be removed because of certain complications. The most common reason is slippage and less commonly it may have to be removed because of breakage. Sometimes patients develop intolerance or they are unable to work with the band because of side effects, such as heartburn or vomiting.

How is the band removed?

The gastric band is removed using the same laparoscopic method that was used to insert it in the first place. It is performed under general anaesthetic and is a day case procedure, which means that the patient can go home on the same day. The operation takes less than an hour unless the band was complicated with erosion into the stomach or bowel and therefore would take longer.

Is gastric band removal a danger to health? What are the complications?

The risk of band removal is similar to gastric band insertion. Risks include bleeding or injury to the stomach or oesophagus, which may lead to leakage and consequently, infection or sepsis. There may have been damage already, which becomes obvious when removed. Other potential complications may include wound or chest infection or general anaesthetic risk.

How long will it take to recover and resume normal activity?

Recovery takes approximately a week to a maximum of two weeks. Normally it takes a few days but if the band was complicated it can take longer. We recommend that you return to exercise such as lifting and running after six weeks, which is what we advise patients undergoing any abdominal surgery in general.

When can I eat food after gastric band removal and will it be any different?

You can eat straight away unless the band is complicated with erosion. Patients will feel the difference and go back to how they originally felt before the band was inserted. Once removed, normal symptoms such as hunger returns.

Is weight gain likely after its removal?

If you have had a gastric band and, for example, lost 70kgs but the band starts to cause trouble and needs to removed, you will gain back the weight that you lost if you return to old habits. It’s really important to stay on your healthy food plan and continue to be active or you will inevitably gain weight.

After having a gastric band removed, is it possible to have it refitted or a different type of bariatric method?

It is possible to have repeat band surgery but it is not advisable if the band has failed you. We prefer to change to a gastric bypass or a sleeve gastrectomy, as a repeat gastric band is the last choice.

If you were to have revisional surgery, it can be done in one operation as the gastric band is removed, we can then insert the second band. Or it can be done in two stages where the gastric band is removed and after four months the new band is inserted.

There is, however, a serious risk of complications, such as a leak, if the gastric bypass or sleeve surgery is done in one stage.

Read more on gastric sleeve surgery

Do not hesitate to book an appointment with Mr Agrawal if you would like to discuss your gastric band removal options.

By Mr Sanjay Agrawal

Mr Sanjay Agrawal is one of London's leading consultants in the specialty of bariatric, laparoscopic and upper GI Surgery and is certified as a 'Master Surgeon in Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery™ (MSMBS™)' by American Surgical Review Corporation. He is one of the country's prominent experts in obesity and weight loss surgery.

He also has a broad range of surgical expertise and performs surgery for gallstones and all kinds of hernias regularly. 

Mr Agrawal has undergone extensive training in the UK, Belgium, Japan and India and has undertaken more than 2,000 general surgical procedures so far. In addition, he has experience in over 1,250 laparoscopic bariatric procedures to date.

Mr Agrawal is Editor of the textbook titled "Obesity, Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery: A Practical Guide" which has achieved more than 190,000 individual chapter downloads worldwide so far. He is also Director of London International Bariatric Surgery Symposium (LIBSS).

Mr Agrawal is a well-respected and very active member of the medical community, dividing his time between consultation and surgery, teaching, committee membership, publishing books and articles and even finding time for television appearances as an expert in his field. 

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