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The Ultimate Guide to Gastric Band

2023-08-17 16:49:34

Last fact-checked: 31 Oct 2020

Gastric band surgery (also referred to as a LAP-BAND®) is an effective option for people who suffer from serious health problems due to extreme or morbid obesity and can’t lose weight naturally through diet and exercise.

As a type of weight loss (bariatric) surgery, a gastric band involves a minimally invasive technique that essentially constricts the stomach so a person will quickly feel full after eating only a small amount of food. This reduced calorie intake, in most cases, leads to drastic weight loss. 

Keep reading to discover more affordable options for gastric band surgery with Medical Departures' global clinics and hospitals. 

Am I Suitable for a Gastric Band?

Gastric bands are usually indicated for people with a BMI (body mass index) of 40 or greater. As well as encouraging weight loss, a gastric band can also:

  • Help to curb sleep apnea; a disorder with symptoms such as long pauses between breaths and shallow breathing during sleep.
  • Help with diabetes and metabolic syndrome (prediabetes).
  • Decrease pain associated with osteoarthritis.
  • Tackle high blood pressure (hypertension)

Doctors acknowledge that each person is unique and the procedure will be adapted to suit your needs.

Although this is the least invasive surgery of its kind, it must be stressed that bariatrics is not an easy option for obesity sufferers and is considered a drastic step. Do consult with a specialist who will be able to confirm your suitability. 

How Do Gastric Bands Work?

The principal is quite straightforward: an inflatable or adjustable silicone band is placed around the upper section of the stomach and locked. This creates a small chamber above the band with a narrow opening to the lower pouch.

Made from biocompatible materials, the band can stay in the body without rejection or causing harm. Your surgeon can inflate or adjust it by injecting liquid into a tube via a port under your skin which alters the passage of food.

The upper chamber holds only a small portion—around 4oz or half a cup of food (a normal stomach holds around 4 cups of chewed food), so the gastric band severely restricts the amount that can comfortably be consumed at one time before you feel full. 

Food intake is limited and digestion is slowed, so the time between eating meals is greatly reduced. The fewer calories you consume, the more weight you will lose.

What Does the Procedure for a Gastric Band Involve?

Performed under general anesthetic using keyhole surgery, only a few small incisions are made as part of this minimally invasive technique.

Although the band is designed to stay in the body long term, the operation is completely reversible. Removing the band can, however, cause weight gain if you fall back into eating large portions, lack of exercise or an unhealthy regime.

During the procedure, a band is wrapped around the upper part of the stomach and stitched. A balloon is enclosed in the band which has a tube that rests just below the surface of the skin. The balloon is inflated with a saline solution until it reaches the right degree of tightness. In effect, this reduces the size of your stomach so you will feel fuller in a shorter amount of time, thereby eating less food.

What Can I Expect After My Gastric Band Surgery?

The operation for a lap band usually entails a relatively short stay in the hospital. Because no part of the stomach is removed or stapled and the intestines aren’t re-routed, recovery is much faster than other bariatric surgery options. The procedure will leave small scars and there is less pain than open surgical procedures.

Following the fitting of a gastric band, the following should be noted:

  • You will only eat pureed food for two to three weeks, then gradually introduce soft foods.
  • When you eventually start to eat solids, your stomach will only hold around a tablespoon of food (around the size of a walnut) and you’ll quickly feel full.
  • Over time, your upper pouch may stretch but it still won’t hold more than a cup of food.
  • This drastic decrease in calorie consumption will enable you to lose weight quickly in the first three to six months but there may be side effects: aches and pain, fatigue, dry skin, mood changes, and occasionally hair loss. These symptoms should diminish as your body adapts to your weight loss.

Gastric Band Surgery Abroad: What to Consider

This may seem like a quite drastic procedure to undertake abroad. However, our verified surgeons and facilities all follow the same international standards as their counterparts in Western countries, and we check to make sure each has the appropriate facilities to accommodate patients, and has received largely positive reviews from past patients who have undertaken this surgery. 

Following the procedure, you should be in no rush to go back home. You should attend follow-ups at the clinic or hospital, and these may entail tests, like bloodwork, to see how well your body has responded to the treatment, as well as making sure you are well enough to leave.

Once you have returned home, you will need to arrange check-ups with your local physician, and participate in a recommended weight loss program or cognitive/behavioral therapy, or both. Any communication between your surgeon abroad and a local doctor can be facilitated by Medical Departures. 

In short, heading abroad to one of our reputable medical centers does not entail any more risk than it would back home—yet you will potentially be making four-figure savings, as shown below.

How Much Can I Save on Gastric Band Surgery Abroad?

LAP-BAND surgery in the US can be prohibitively expensive, with an average price tag of around $15,000, which can often increase to $30,000 when all medical bills are totalled. 

In comparison, the average cost of this same procedure abroad, such as in Mexico or Turkey, is $5,000-$8,000.  

Discover prices like these along with experienced bariatric surgeons in these top-rated centers for gastric bands:

  • Sergio Verboonen (Cancun, Mexico)
  • Sergio Verboonen (Tijuana, Mexico)
  • Medlife Group - Medical (Izmir, Turkey)

How Do I Get Started?

Take a look through Medical Departures' full list of global gastric band clinics here.

For a free, personalized quote, contact our Customer Care Team on the toll-free number provided. They can help find a trusted bariatric specialist at a price that’s right for you.


Zuckerman, Diana, Ph.D.; Carroll, Jenna. Gastric Lap-Bands: What You Need to Know. National Center for Health Research. 2019. 

MacGill, Markus. How does a gastric band work? Medical News Today. 24 May 2018.

What Is Gastric Sleeve Weight Loss Surgery? WebMD. 25 December 2018.

Seeras K; Acho RJ; Prakash S. Laparoscopic Lap Band Placement. 16 June 2020.