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How much does a gastric band cost in the UK, and what are the risks of complications?

A gastric band is one of the most popular types of obesity treatment both in the UK and around the world. An adjustable band is fitted around the upper part of your stomach to create a pouch. This slows down the amount of food that can physically pass through your stomach which has the effect of making you feeling fuller quicker. A gastric band is designed to remain permanently within the stomach but can be adjusted externally at any time by a surgeon.

The procedure
Gastric banding is performed under a general anesthetic and takes approximately one and a half hours. The surgeon inserts an adjustable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach. This effectively creates a new smaller stomach pouch. The band is either left empty or partially filled. Six weeks after the operation, the band will be fully filled to complete the treatment. The procedure will require at least one, and possibly two, nights in hospital. More details on the lap band operation.

Risks and side effects
The risks of a gastric banding include slippage, leakage or deflation of the band which will require corrective surgery. Side effects of the treatment include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea but most will wear off as your body adjusts to the band. More details on the side effects of stomach banding.

Cost and prices
A gastric band at a UK private clinic can cost as little as £5,000 but prices can be well over double this, particularly in London. The costs of treatment abroad are significantly less with the cheapest locations including countries such as Turkey, India, Mexico, Malaysia and the Czech Republic. More details on the cost of a lap band.

NHS, private or abroad
Gastric banding is only available on the NHS provided you meet specific criteria as set out by your local Primary Care Trust i.e. you must be 18 or over, have tried all other conventional methods of weight loss, and you don't have any medical or psychological reasons for not carrying out the procedure. Alternatively, you can choose to have the procedure in a number of private clinics both in the UK and abroad. More information on NHS stomach banding.

The actual surgical procedure of stomach banding doesn't automatically lead to weight loss. It's the diet and food choices you make afterwards that help you to lose the pounds. You must follow a strict diet in the weeks and months following your surgery, otherwise you will be disappointed with the results. More information on the gastric banding diet.

Gastric band hypnotherapy is new techniques designed to replicate a banding operation. Hypnosis is used to convince you that stomach banding operation has been performed. In theory, you then approach food as if you really did have a smaller stomach and less desire to eat. More details on gastric band hypnosis.

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