Gastric Band vs. Gastric Bypass for Weight Loss

The Chicago Center for Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss at West Suburban Medical Center offers a number of different weight loss surgeries to help people living with obesity achieve success in their weight-loss goals. Two of the most popular bariatric surgeries available are gastric band and gastric bypass. Here you’ll learn more about how these procedures work and which may be the right choice for you.

Gastric Band vs. Gastric Bypass: How Do They Work?

Because of our commitment to providing high-quality care, we’ve designed a comprehensive program that supports all patients from the moment they reach out for information through recovery and follow-up. Patients have access to a multidisciplinary care team, support groups, dietary and psychological counseling, and a team of surgeons who have performed thousands of weight-loss surgeries. These resources are available for any surgical route you choose, including for gastric band or gastric bypass procedures.

Gastric Band Procedure

gastric bandLaparoscopic gastric band surgery is sometimes called gastric band or lap band surgery. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and takes about one to two hours in total. During the procedure, the surgeon makes several small incisions to place a silicone band around the top part of the stomach.

We also offer single-incision laparoscopic lap gastric banding when appropriate, which is the same procedure except that the lap band is placed using a single incision, which can help minimize pain and scarring, and even mean a faster recovery for some people.

Unlike most other bariatric surgeries, gastric band surgery is usually done as an outpatient surgery, meaning you won’t need to stay in the hospital overnight unless your doctor feels it’s medically necessary. The recovery timeline after gastric band surgery is often as follows:

  • Able to drive within 2 to 10 days after surgery,
  • Able to return to work (non-physically demanding work) in a week,
  • Able to resume an exercise routine within 2 to 4 weeks.

Always communicate with your doctor if you experience any symptoms or side effects after surgery, and follow your surgeon’s instructions.

After the original procedure, you’ll have regular non-surgical follow-ups with the Chicago Center for Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss team in which the gastric band can be adjusted to allow for optimal weight loss results. Some people will eventually have their gastric band removed, after which, the stomach returns to its normal size.

How Weight Loss Works With Gastric Band

Weight loss occurs with gastric band surgery by squeezing the stomach to become a small pouch that holds much less food than before. Having the gastric band adjusted periodically allows for this approach to be highly customizable for each person. Because there is no surgery with the intestines, food passes through the digestive tract normally and there is no change to the way the body absorbs food.

Weight loss with a gastric band is often gradual, but steady, during which you have regular visits with your bariatric care team who track and support weight loss progress. People generally lose about half of their excess weight after a gastric band procedure.

Gastric Bypass Procedure

gastric bypass-2Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, often called just gastric bypass is a bariatric surgery that is more complex than a gastric band procedure. This procedure is also performed under general anesthesia. After you are unconscious, the surgeon makes several tiny incisions in the abdomen and uses a surgical stapler to close off part of the stomach to create a small pouch about ¼ the size of your original stomach, which is then connected to the lower small intestine.

The recovery timeline after gastric bypass surgery is often as follows:

  • A hospital stay after surgery of 2 to 3 days,
  • Able to drive within 1 to 2 weeks after surgery,
  • Able to return to work (non-physically demanding work) in 1 to three weeks
  • Able to resume an exercise routine within 2 to 6 weeks.

How Weight Loss Works With Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass surgery promotes weight loss in several different ways. First, the smaller stomach limits the amount of food that can be eaten at one time, leading to more restrictive eating patterns encouraging weight loss.

Additionally, the gastric bypass procedure creates an entirely new system for your body to absorb food. Since food now bypasses part of the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine, production of hormones and bacteria in your gut are impacted, which can help curb appetite, increase metabolism, and increase energy expenditure.

Pros and Cons of Gastric Band and Gastric Bypass

gastric bypass and gastric bandMany patients experience a number of health benefits after bariatric surgery, including improvement or resolution of some health conditions such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes,
  • Osteoarthritis,
  • Sleep apnea,
  • High blood pressure, and
  • High cholesterol

These benefits may be realized whether you’ve had a gastric band placement or gastric bypass surgery. Following are additional pros and cons of each procedure.

Gastric Band Pros

  • The stomach can hold less food.
  • Many people are able to lose half of all excess weight.
  • The stomach and intestines do not have any incisions.
  • There is a low risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies after surgery.
  • Most patients leave the hospital the same day as surgery.
  • The gastric band is adjustable and fully reversible.
  • The gastric band has the lowest rate of early complications after surgery, as well as the lowest mortality rates among bariatric surgeries.

Gastric Band Cons

  • Weight loss may be more gradual than other surgical weight loss options.
  • Not all patients are able to achieve weight loss of at least 50 percent of excess weight.
  • It requires the placement of a foreign device to stay in the body (unlike other bariatric procedures, including gastric bypass, which do not).
  • A small number of patients may experience slippage of the gastric band.
  • If the patient overeats, it can lead to esophageal problems.
  • Some patients go on to have additional weight loss surgery or re-operation.

Gastric Bypass Pros

  • Many patients lose weight quickly—sometimes between 5 and 15 pounds per week in the first few months after surgery.
  • Long term weight loss for gastric bypass surgery patients can be as much as 60 to 80 percent of excess weight.
  • Digestive hormone changes help control appetite and increase metabolism.
  • Gastric bypass surgery is often recommended as the best option for those who are morbidly obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 45.

Gastric Bypass Cons

  • Gastric bypass surgery is more complex than gastric banding, because both the stomach and intestines are affected.
  • Unlike the gastric band, gastric bypass is not reversible.
  • There is a risk of dumping syndrome, when food moves from the stomach to the intestines too quickly, causing symptoms such as abdominal cramping and diarrhea, and can lead to problems with nutrition absorption.
  • Without proper nutrition and vitamin supplement management, there is more of a risk of long-term vitamin and mineral deficiencies with gastric bypass than with the gastric band.

Making a Choice

Regardless of what procedure you ultimately choose, the most important choice is to take control of your health. If you want to learn about bariatric surgery to see if it’s right for you, the best first step is to attend one of our free informational sessions. A one-on-one follow-up consultation with one of our surgeons can help you make informed decisions about the different types of surgery.

When you visit the Chicago Center for Bariatric Surgery & Medical Weight Loss, you can feel comfortable that you’re in good hands, as we’re accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP®) and designated as a Blue Distinction® Center for Bariatric Surgery, both distinctions achieved through a rigorous evaluation of our safe, high-quality care practices

Register today to attend a free weight loss information session to get started.


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