Lap Banding


Lap Banding
(also known as Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (LAGB) or Gastric Banding)

Lap band surgery is a reversible weight loss procedure that reduces the amount of food that can be eaten at one time.
During the laparoscopic procedure, an inflatable silicone band is placed around the top of stomach; this divides the stomach into two parts (a small pouch at the top and the remainder of the stomach at the bottom) separated by a narrow opening.
The pouch only holds about ½ cup of food (a typical stomach holds about six cups) while the narrow opening slows the passage of food to the lower stomach.
The procedure therefore increases the patient’s feeling of fullness after meals (the pouch signals the brain that the stomach is full after just ½ cup of food) and increases production of the appetite reducing hormone, Peptide YY, which is stimulated by the presence of food in the digestive tract.
Lap banding typically results in 0.5 – 1kg weight loss per week for the first 12-18 months.
It also typically improves obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obstructive sleep apnoea – and can therefore increase longevity.


In Australia, Lap Band surgery is generally recommended for people aged over 16 who have been unable to lose weight or maintain weight loss through diet and exercise, and have:

  • a BMI over 40
  • a BMI over 35 with comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension likely to improve with weight loss


After the patient has been sedated with a general anaesthetic, the surgeon will make small incisions into their abdomen.

Guided by a tiny camera called a laparoscope which sends images to a video screen, the surgeon will then use instruments with long handles to place and lock the lap band around the upper part of the patient’s stomach.

They will then connect the band to an access port on the patient’s abdomen wall with a thin plastic tube. 

The surgeon will then close and dress the incisions. 

After the surgery, which normally takes about an hour, the patient will be taken to recovery.

If they are having day surgery, the patient will then most likely be allowed to leave go home in a few hours.

If they are staying in hospital, they will then be taken to their room where they will most likely stay one to two nights before being discharged.

Risks & Complications

Lap Band surgery is generally considered a safe surgery – it has been performed on over 650,000 patients around the world since the mid-1980s

Nonetheless, the following complications can occur during, or after, the procedure:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infections
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Stomach pain
  • Chest pain
  • Gallstones
  • Heartburn or Reflux
  • Food intolerance
  • Band erosion 
  • Band slippage
  • Port rotation
  • Gastritis
  • Oesophageal Dilation
  • Productive Burping (regurgitation of food from the upper pouch).

If any serious, or unwanted, complications occur, the gastric band can be removed.


You may not be able to undergo gastric band surgery if you are unfit for general anaesthetic or surgery or have any of the following conditions.

  • Untreated endocrine diseases such as hypothyroidism  
  • Heart disease
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’ disease and Ulcerative colitis  
  • Severe learning or cognitive disabilities

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the benefits of lap banding compared to other bariatric surgeries?
As lap band surgery is performed with minimal incisions it usually results in a shorter hospital stays, faster recovery, smaller scars, and less pain than open bariatric procedures.

In addition, after insertion, lap bands:

  • can easily be adjusted to meet patients’ changing diet needs,
  • cause no malabsorption issues (the body continues to absorb nutrients from food normally as there has been no cutting, stapling or removal of any part of the digestive system).
  • can be removed.

How will I look/feel immediately after a lap banding operation?
‏You will look the same and won’t feel much pain as lap band surgery is minimally invasive with only a few incisions.
If you do however feel uncomfortable, you can take the pain medications prescribed or recommended by your surgeon.

How long will I take to recover?
‏Full recovery from lap band surgery usually takes a week or two.
Although you will be able to resume your normal activities at this time, you won’t be able to resume your normal eating activities – it will be several weeks before you are able to safely eat solid food.

How long before I will see weight loss results?
‏Results vary greatly but most lap band patients lose an average 0.5-1kg per week for the first 12 to 18 months – resulting in a total weight reduction of 25 to 45kg in the first year.
They also typically see gradual improvements in weight-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension over the same time.

Will I need to have the lap band adjusted?
Yes. In most cases the band will need to be adjusted (filled or emptied of saline solution) on a regular basis so that you can continue to lose weight while limiting any side effects.
The first adjustment, which is a painless in-office procedure that takes just a few minutes, is typically made four to six weeks after the operation and then as often needed.
The goal of adjustments is to ensure that that the band is filled for optimal results – the band should be tight enough so that hunger is controlled but not so tight that food can’t move through the digestive system.
The number of adjustments varies widely between patients with some never requiring any adjustments after their surgery.
Nonetheless, it is recommended that lap band recipients, attend at least one follow-up appointment each year after the initial placement to ensure maximum results with minimal side effects.

Can I have the lap band removed?
Yes, the band can be safely removed as no cutting, removal or other damage to the digestive system is made during the initial surgery.
However, after removal any weighloss is likely to be quickly regained.

How long does a lap band last?
Lap bands are designed to last a lifetime, however more than half of lap bands are removed within 10 years

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