Weight Loss Surgery

Surgery may be an option if you’ve tried everything else and your weight is having a big impact on your disability.  Also if your weight is having an impact on other health conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

There are a few different types of weight loss surgery. Most are done using key hole surgery where possible. Surgery is never a 'quick-fix'.  You will still need to make healthy, sustainable dietary choices for life to maintain the weight loss you achieve.

Are you eligible for weight loss surgery?

To qualify for weight loss surgery on the NHS you must meet the following criteria:

  •  you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI between 35 and 40 and an obesity-related condition that might improve if you lost weight (such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure)
  • you've tried all other weight loss methods, such as dieting and exercise, but have struggled to lose weight or keep it off
  • you agree to long-term follow-up after surgery – such as making healthy lifestyle changes and attending regular check-ups

Speak to a GP if you think weight loss surgery may be an option for you. If you qualify for NHS treatment, they can refer you for an assessment to check surgery is suitable.

It be difficult to work out your BMI if you have short limbs. It may be helpful to try this BMI calculator.

What are the different types of surgery available?

Common weight loss procedures include:

  • gastric banding
  • gastric balloon treatment
  • gastric bypass surgery
  • sleeve gastrectomy

Each of these has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your surgeon will discuss which is the best option for you. They will take into account how much weight you need to lose, your BMI and other health conditions.

Weight loss surgery treatments are clinically proven to work, with excess weight loss of up to 50% with gastric bands and up to 60% with gastric bypasses after two years.

Gastric bands

Gastric bands involve putting a band of silicone around the top part of the stomach. This reduces the amount of food you can eat in one sitting and makes you feel full easily. The band can be tightened or loosened by the surgeon to control the amount you are able to eat and rate of your weight loss. You will be able to consume liquids and small amounts of food.

As with all diets and surgery, you will still have to eat more healthily and try to remain as active as you can be. The band will usually be adjusted 6-8 weeks after surgery via a small device that sits under the skin that connects to the band.

Gastric band summary
Typical Cost £4,000-£8,000
Advantages Less invasive than other types of weight loss surgery and the band isn’t permanent.
Disadvantages The weight loss usually isn’t as much as other methods.
Bupa video explaining how the surgery is done

Gastric balloon

A Gastric balloon is a soft silicon balloon that is temporarily inserted into your stomach to partially fill it.  This makes you feel full quicker after small amounts of food. By consuming smaller amounts of food and therefore less calories, you will lose weight. Like with gastric bands, if you continue to consume lots of alcohol or food which are high in calories the weight loss will reduce or stop. You must eat a healthy diet while the balloon is fitted and continue after it is removed.

The aim is that when the balloon is removed, you will have 'retrained' your brain to eat less food. If you are eating less and more healthily you will maintain the weight loss.

Gastric balloon summary
Typical Cost £2,000-£5,000
Advantages Can be inserted in around 15 minutes under a mild sedative and you can usually go home the same day.
Less expensive than many surgical options.
It is only temporary, offering support whilst you start to lose weight.
Disadvantages Once it is removed, you can eat normally again and will regain weight  if a healthy diet is not maintained.


Gastric balloons

Find out more >

Gastric bypass surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is done under general anaesthetic and is a bigger and more complex procedure than a gastric band or balloon. However, it can mean the weight loss is greater.

A surgeon staples top part of the stomach, creating a small pouch, and attaches it to the middle part of the small intestine.

Gastric bypass summary
Typical Cost £9,500-£15,000
Advantages More people tend to achieve significant weight loss with a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy than with a gastric band.
Disadvantages Difficult to reverse.
An increased chance of vitamin and iron shortage than gastric band or gastric sleeve.
Higher chance of surgery-related problems than gastric band.
Learn more about Gastric bypass surgery

Sleeve gastrectomy

A sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve procedure, is key hole surgery which removes ¾ of your stomach so that it takes the shape of a tube or sleeve. It means the stomach is much smaller and you will feel full quickly.

Sleeve gastrectomy summary
Typical Cost £8,000-£10,000
Advantages More people tend to achieve significant weight loss with a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy than with a gastric band.
Disadvantages Not reversible, because part of the stomach is removed.
As stomach stapling is involved, a potential for leaks and other complications exists.
Learn more about Sleeve gastrectomy

What are the risks of surgery?

All surgical procedures carry risk and there may be complications including:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis – DVT)
  • Developing a hernia in the scar

Your surgeon will also discuss more specific risks that you may have, according to the type of surgery you're having.

Can I get it done privately?

If you don’t qualify on the NHS, you can use your health grant or other sources to fund this yourself.
Here are some options for going privately:

Phoenix Health - a specialist provider of weight loss surgery
Spire Healthcare
Nuffield Health


Need to discuss your options?

Please contact the Trust medical advisers on 01480 474074 to discuss the options available to you.