What exactly is a hypnotic gastric band?

close-up of surgeon performing gastric band operationPerhaps the most radical approach to weight-loss is the surgical implanting of a Gastric Band (or sometimes a ‘Ballon’) that physically reduces the size of the stomach. This naturally leads to the patient having a reduced appetite and gradually losing weight
The intervention is not without considerable risks.

The risks of gastric band surgery

A television programme on Channel 5 on Wednesday 16 October 2013 highlighted some extreme cases where weightloss surgery had a serious and in some cases, potentially fatal, outcome. To be fair, only one of those cases was a gastric band operation, but it is still a scenario everybody dreads.
The process, which involves surgically installing a silicone band around the stomach to restrict the flow of food and limit intake, is certainly not something that anybody takes lightly.

  • It’s extremely expensive;
  • It can have serious impact on a person’s way of life;
  • It is highly invasive and therefore a potentially dangerous operation;
  • As with any major operation there are risks involved in having the treatment.

In spite of that, there have been many people who have chosen to undergo the surgery and who have been very happy with the improvement in their weight and the impact on their lives.
Understandably, surgeons will not enter into this treatment lightly, often imposing some targets on prospective patients to demonstrate their commitment to weightloss.

Is hypnotherapy a genuine alternative?

For those seeking a less drastic but potentially equally effective solution, there is now an alternative – the Hypnotic Gastric Band. This relatively new technique has become well known and popular over the past few years , particularly since the launch of Paul McKenna’s book on the subject, and there are now many therapists offering the service around the world.
The principle is simple. A client with serious weight problems is seen by a hypnotist, who installs in them the belief that they have had a Gastric Band fitted. The client believes this so strongly that they are only able to eat and drink to the degree that they would have done had a real band been fitted.

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The advantages of this approach are probably obvious to many:

  • No invasive surgery or anaesthetics
  • A fraction of the cost of surgery (a hypnotic gastric band is usually just a few hundred pound)
  • Completely reversible and adjustable
  • No side effects

Just as real gastric band surgery is not a solution to all weightloss problems, hypnotic gastric band isn’t for everybody. It is a powerful solution with a potentially dramatic impact on a person’s life. There is a range of very effective techniques in hypnotherapy and NLP which can help a person shed pounds and live a healthy life without having to go to the length of restricting the intake of food in this way. Gastric band hypnotherapy is normally a last resort for those who are chronically overweight, who have tried a range of different approaches and been unable to consistently keep off the excess fat.
Normally, before a decision is made, there will be a discussion between the therapist and client about which approach will work best. In fact, even where gastric band hypnotherapy is selected, there are a number of other techniques involved. Many therapists, having selected this treatment, or the similar ‘gastric balloon’ treatment, alongside the client, will set up a series of appointments to install the ‘band’. Others, myself included, prefer to run a one-off, intensive session in a single day. This four or five hour procedure explores all the client’s issues and feelings around eating, dieting, fitness and exercise. It relies on total honesty and trust between the client and the therapist.
At the end of the session the client will believe that they have had a ‘band’ fitted inside them that will limit their intake of food and drink to a significant level. They will have been educated in how to eat and drink safely and they will find that breaking the ‘rules’ will cause them some discomfort and nausea. The changes that this imposes may well have real impact on their lifestyle and a good therapist will work through scenarios with them, such as eating out, parties, Christmas and other situations where food is a significant issue.
After a period of weeks or months the client will be given an opportunity to return to the therapist to have the band ‘adjusted’ if necessary in order to increase or decrease the level of food intake. Often this after-care will be a part of the overall ‘package’. The therapist is also able to remove the band at any time, should the client require this.
For those who consider gastric band surgery a step too far, or who are advised by their doctor not to have surgery, the hypno gastric band can be an effective solution. I do urge you though to consider other, less drastic alternatives. Hypnotherapy and NLP in general, are often hugely effective in other ways and you can feel really good about your body, your health and your lifestyle with just a few sessions as you work on your beliefs, your confidence and your habits.

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Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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