Fern Britton Makes Gastric Band Surgery More Popular

gastric band

Adjustable Gastric Band

Since TV presenter Fern Britton announced that gastric band surgery helped her lose five stone, GP’s have reported a sudden increase enquiries about the procedure.

Many patients are now very keen to have the surgery themselves, in a slightly desperate attempt to lose weight. Few people are aware of the serious health implication of such an invasive, and irreversible procedure.

Many of the enquiries for the procedure have been referred to the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, where consultant surgeon David Hewin has had many calls regarding the slimming procedure.

David Hewin told the Gloucester Echo;

“Since Fern’s weight loss surgery was been made public earlier this week, I have received more than 20 inquiries – a 400% increase – from people in Gloucestershire asking for more information about gastric band operations. Clearly Fern’s successful weight loss has raised awareness of this type of surgery and the life saving and life-changing results that can be achieved.”

NHS Treatment for Morbidly Obese

Although private treatment can cost in excess of GBP7000.00, the NHS does provide treatment for the morbidly obese, which is defined as having a BMI of over 35 (want to know your BMI? Use our BMI calculator).

In 2006 we looked at the risks of gastric band surgery – a Swiss study showed a 40 per cent complication or failure rate for laparoscopic gastric banding. This news followed Anne Diamond’s botched Belgian gastric banding operation in which the band was incorrectly placed, leading to complications and the requirement for further surgery.

Risks Associated With Gastric Band Surgey

The main problems of gastric band surgery are:

  • The wound from the operation can become infected. Antibiotics are given during surgery to help prevent this.
  • For up to six weeks after the operation, it is possible to develop a blood clot (DVT) in the veins in the leg. This clot can break off and cause a blockage in the lungs. In most cases this is treatable, but it can be a life-threatening condition. Compression stockings, intermittent compression pumps and blood-thinning injections are used to help prevent DVT.
  • There is a risk that during the operation other organs in the abdomen may be accidentally damaged.
  • There is a risk that the band may slip out of place, break or erode through the stomach wall. This may require further surgery or removal of the band.
  • It is possible you may fail to lose sufficient weight or regain weight, and some patients have further weight loss surgery.
  • If you lose weight rapidly, there is a risk of developing gallstones in your gallbladder. These can be painful. Your surgeon may remove your gallbladder during surgery.
  • Bit of food can get stuck on your stomach, and take time to become dislodged or digested.

Source: BUPA Fact Sheet

Gastric Band Diet

Post operation diet is also very restrictive. The most important aspect of your eating plan for the first four weeks after band insertion is to make sure all your food is puréed and that you eat it in small quantities. After 4 weeks food does not need to be puréed, but quantity must not increase.

After 6 weeks, slightly more can be eaten, but still you must never eat after feeling full. All drinks should be zero calories, which pretty much means NOTHING but water. Ever.

Often these foods cause problems after gastric band surgery:


  • Asparagus – cut up very small or blend into soup
  • Pineapple – juice is ok, fruit may be difficult to digest
  • Rhubarb – cut up very small or puree
  • Broccoli – the stalks may cause problems
  • Dried fruits – will swell inside you and should be avoided
  • Oranges – juice ok, flesh may cause problems
  • Meat – needs to diced finely and chewed thoroughly
  • White bread is hard to digest and best avoided. In fact, all refined flours and sugars need to be avoide, which means NO CAKES and NO BISCUITS ever again!

The most important consideration is that gastric band surgery is not a quick fix solution. Patients will have to follow a strict diet and exercise program to ensure that the weight stays off. Gastric band surgery is a very extreme measure to take to lose weight.

A sensible low GI diet will in most cases produce the same results, without the risk to health, the costs and the strict lifetime diet that will follow.

Image by James P Gray, MD

More like this in the Weight Loss section

  2 comments for “Fern Britton Makes Gastric Band Surgery More Popular

  1. Rachel Wastney
    December 3, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I find it interesting that you haven’t “talked” to someone who has had banding. Without the surgery I was dying, it was very slow and painful way to die.
    My surgery was 12 weeks ago and I have lost 3 stone in that time.
    I don’t feel that my diet is restrictive, in fact it is easier than before. Half of each meal is protein with the other half being veges or fruit (most of the time), because I am full and don’t feel hungry, I don’t feel that I am missing out on anything. I still have the occassional piece of chocolate, and I can have just a piece and be happy.
    The biggest problem is having to be organised, all my work meals have to be prepared in advance because I can’t just pop into the local cafe for a meal, they are all too big and not nutritious enough.
    I am now training for a minimum of 5 hours per week and I have entered into 2 triathlons, a half marathon (walk) and 15 duathlons to complete over the next 3 months. I couldn’t have done these activities without losing some weight as I could barely walk. I tried dieting, but my hunger would take over and I would eat too much in each meal (I only had take aways once a week, although I will admit chocolate was my poison of choice a couple of times a week). I tried exercising, for one event I trained for a year and rode in a 101km race, during this time I only lost 1kg, this is depressing.
    If you have tried everything and failed, gastric banding may be the solution that actually works.

  2. MotleyHealth
    December 6, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Hi Rachel, thank you for sharing your experience. It is interesting that you say “biggest problem is having to be organised”. This really applies to any healthy diet anywhere. I have worked in banks in London and know how hard it is to find a really healthy meal when you need to. Sounds like you have the mental disciple to carry this through, triathlons and 101km bike races are not for the faint hearted – so well done there.

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