This surgery is performed under anesthesia in a hospital operating room, where three to five incisions of one-half to two inches are made in the upper abdomen, allowing the doctor to use special tools to place a 'gastric band' containing a small balloon around the top portion of the stomach, forming a smaller 'gastric pouch'.
This type of procedure is called 'laparoscopic' and represents a significant advance over 'open' surgery in which a patient's entire abdomen is exposed to afford the surgeon access to the stomach. Laparoscopic procedures can be performed more quickly with less pain and scarring to the patient, and require far less recovery time than open procedures.
Once in place, the pouch is filled with a saline solution through an injection port, which is attached to the abdominal wall under the skin. Saline expands the band and places pressure around the outside of the stomach. This decreases the size of the passage between the pouch and the lower stomach, restricting the movement of food. Using the injection port the amount of saline in the band can be easily adjusted to create the passage optimal for maintaining consistent weight loss.
The entire procedure is usually completed in less than an hour, though patients are kept in hospital for a minimum of 24 hours prior to being released by the surgeon for travel, in order to reduce the risk of surgical complications.