Gastric band hypnosis

Written by Bonnie Gifford
Bonnie Gifford
Hypnotherapy Directory Content Team

Reviewed by Reframe Therapy
Last updated 16th July 2024 | Next update due 16th July 2027

Gastric band hypnotherapy (also known as a virtual gastric band) is a technique used to help you lose weight. Using this technique, a hypnotherapist suggests to your subconscious that you have had a gastric band fitted around your stomach. Considered to be a non-invasive alternative to weight loss surgery, a hypnotic gastric band can have many positive effects, without the potential side effects.

What is a gastric band?

A physical gastric band is an adjustable silicone device used in weight loss surgery. The band is placed around the upper section of your stomach to create a small pouch above the device. This restricts the amount of food that can be stored in your stomach, making it difficult to eat large amounts.

Available through private surgery, or for those who meet specific criteria for an NHS procedure, a gastric band is one of three weight-loss surgeries most commonly offered. The main benefit of a gastric band is long-term, sustainable weight loss. For you to see the benefits, it is still important to change your diet, exercise regularly, and attend post-surgery follow-up appointments to gain advice and support as needed.

A gastric band aims to restrict the amount of food a person can physically eat, causing them to feel full after eating very little to encourage weight loss. For most people who have this surgery, it is the last resort after trying other methods of weight loss. Like any surgery, fitting a gastric band comes with risks. 

If you have a physical gastric band, some of the risks include: 

  • The band slipping out of place. This can go on to cause nausea, vomiting, and heartburn. Further surgery may be needed to readjust or remove the band.
  • A leak in your gut. Following a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve (another form of gastric band), there is a small chance food can leak into your tummy, causing a serious infection that may need antibiotics and surgery to repair any damage.
  • A blocked gut. Blockages can cause vomiting, tummy pain, trouble swallowing, and bowel movement issues. Blockages may have to be cleared by a professional.
  • Malnutrition. Absorbing the right amount of vitamins and minerals can become a problem after weight loss surgery, meaning that many will have to take supplements for life to avoid the risks of malnutrition. 

Those with uteruses who have had a physical gastric band, sleeve, or bypass are also recommended to avoid becoming pregnant for 12-18 months post-surgery. 

But how do physical gastric bands differ from gastric band hypnosis? And can a virtual gastric band really have the same benefits?

What is gastric band hypnosis?

Gastric band hypnosis can be used to help people lose weight, without the risks that come with surgery. Many hypnotherapists look to identify the root cause of your emotional eating.

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating can be a common but unhealthy way of coping with challenging feelings or emotions. If you find yourself reaching for food when you are upset or stressed, or rely on food as a treat or reward for a tough week, to motivate yourself, or even as a fallback when you are bored, these can all be signs that you are using food to help boost your mood.

Over time, this can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and even a cycle of unhealthy eating habits that can lead to eating problems, disordered eating, as well as physical health problems.

Using hypnosis, a hypnotherapist can encourage you to remember long-forgotten experiences surrounding food that may be subconsciously affecting you now. They can also help you to recognise patterns, reactions, or behaviours you may not realise you have been doing. Addressing and recognising any unhealthy thought patterns surrounding food can be helpful before starting gastric band hypnotherapy.

Next, your hypnotherapist will carry out the virtual gastric band treatment. 

What is a virtual gastric band? 

A virtual gastric band is a non-surgical technique that uses hypnosis to help people feel more satisfied with smaller amounts of food. You may hear this as an alternative term for gastric band hypnotherapy or a hypnotic gastric band.

Gastric band hypnotherapy is designed to suggest, at a subconscious level, that you have had an operation to insert a gastric band. The aim is for your body to respond to this suggestion by making you feel fuller quicker as if you had the real surgery.

In this video, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Virtual Gastric Band Practitioner, Geraldine Campion, explains more about virtual gastric band hypnotherapy and how it can help you.

Unlike diets, getting a virtual gastric band is designed to help you make long-term lifestyle changes. By recognising and addressing underlying issues, helping you to recognise triggers, and working with your subconscious to help you feel fuller for longer, hypnotherapy can help you take those first steps towards making positive change. 

By causing us to count calories or consciously measure portion size or even totally omit types of foods, many diets can make us more obsessed with food and our eating. This can take the pleasure out of eating and can lead us to crave more of certain foods and a diet-overeat/binge cycle can start.

- Hypnotherapist Becca Teers DIP CBH MNCH (Reg) CNHC (Reg) GHR RTT explains more in How does the virtual gastric band work for weight reduction?

Why should I get gastric band hypnosis?

A traditional gastric band is one form of weight loss surgery that is often considered a last resort. Involving fitting a band around the upper part of your stomach, the band physically limits how much food you can eat, in many cases, encouraging weight loss. However, research has shown that patients undergoing a physical gastric band face a number of complications in the months and years following surgery, including the risk of the band slipping or eroding.

The often significant and sustained loss of weight that accompanies many gastric band procedures can be appealing for those who have struggled with sustainable weight loss, diet changes, and weight-related issues. Having a ‘virtual gastric band’ fitted, also known as having gastric band hypnotherapy, doesn’t require surgery.

By working with your subconscious, a hypnotherapist can help you believe that you’ve had a physical procedure, and your stomach has reduced in size. No surgery or medication is used, making it a safer, painless alternative.

Hypnotherapists offering gastric band hypnosis

How does gastric band hypnosis work?

Using relaxation techniques a hypnotherapist will put you into a state of hypnosis. In this relaxed state, your subconscious is more open to suggestion. At this point, hypnotherapists make suggestions to your subconscious. With gastric band hypnotherapy, this suggestion is that you’ve had a physical band fitted.

The mind is powerful, so if your subconscious accepts these suggestions, your behaviour will change accordingly. Usually, along with the ‘fitting’ of the virtual gastric band, suggestions surrounding confidence and behaviour will be made to help you commit to this change in lifestyle.

Many therapists will also teach self-hypnosis techniques so you can enhance the work you’ve done following the session. Educating yourself on nutrition and exercise is often advised as well, to promote physical health and well-being.

Studies have shown that hypnotherapy can be an effective way of losing and maintaining weight loss. Find out more about the studies and research into hypnotherapy and hypnosis.

Unhealthy relationships with food 

If you are considering weight-related surgery or hypnotherapy alternatives, it may also be worth considering your relationship with food. Merely focusing on the end goal of weight loss can often overlook underlying issues of an unhealthy relationship with food that may be affecting you across different areas in your life, including impacting your self-confidence and self-esteem, causing feelings of anxiety or guilt, or even holding you back in social or work-related situations. 

Problem eating doesn’t have a single ‘look’. It can affect anyone, at any age, in any number of different ways. If you are worried that your eating habits may be impacting your overall health and well-being, it’s important to speak with your GP. 

What to expect: Getting a virtual gastric band

Your first meeting with the hypnotherapist will likely be an initial consultation where you discuss what you hope to gain from hypnotherapy. This is an opportunity to talk about any previous weight loss attempts, your eating habits, any health issues and your general attitude towards food. This information will give the therapist a clearer idea of what will help and whether or not any other forms of treatment should be considered.

If you have any health problems relating to your weight, please seek advice from your doctor.

The procedure itself is designed to mimic gastric band surgery, to help your subconscious believe it has really happened. To make the experience more authentic, many hypnotherapists will incorporate the sounds and smells of an operating theatre. Your therapist will begin by taking you into a deeply relaxed state, also known as a trance. You will be aware of what is happening and will be in control at all times.

Once you are in a hypnotic state, the therapist will talk you through the 'operation'. They will explain step-by-step what happens in surgery, from being put under the anaesthetic to the first incision, fitting the band itself and stitching up the cut. The sounds and smells of an operating theatre will enhance the experience, to persuade your subconscious that what’s being said is really happening to you.

Other suggestions may be incorporated during the procedure to increase self-confidence. Once the procedure is complete, your hypnotherapist may teach you some self-hypnosis techniques to help you stay on track at home.

Some hypnotherapists may suggest returning for follow-up appointments to help monitor the virtual gastric band’s success, as well as to make any adjustments. This happens when people get the physical band fitted too. For some, it can be helpful to continue hypnotherapy sessions as part of a long-term weight management plan. This allows the hypnotherapist to work with you to address underlying issues surrounding food and self-esteem.

Gastric band hypnosis should form part of a weight management programme that addresses nutrition and exercise habits. It is the combination of changing habits in both body and mind that is often most successful for those seeking weight loss.

How will I feel after?

For those who overeat, recognising when you’re physically full can be difficult. Sometimes we eat purely for the taste or comfort, ignoring whether or not we are physically hungry. Learning to recognise the physical sensations of being hungry and being full helps cultivate healthy eating habits.

The procedure should be a pleasant and relaxing experience, with most people reporting a feeling of calm when they come out of hypnosis.

Will gastric band hypnotherapy work for me?

A common question for those trying hypnotherapy for the first time is: will it work for me? Unfortunately, it isn’t a simple case of yes or no; it is largely up to you. Hypnotherapy helps people with a range of concerns but is particularly useful when it comes to changing habits. For this reason, it is often successful in helping people develop healthy eating habits and lose weight. However, just like any other lifestyle change, it will require your total commitment.

No weight-loss method, from surgery to diets, is guaranteed to achieve specific results. Similarly, as with any form of hypnosis, the results of gastric band hypnotherapy are dependent on you approaching the process with an open mind, as well as being ready and willing to make changes.

You are more likely to make sustainable changes and get what you want from gastric band hypnotherapy if you believe in the process and your therapist. Being comfortable and trusting your hypnotherapist is essential. This is why it is advised that you take time to research hypnotherapists in your area and find out more about them, how they work and what their qualifications entail. You can arrange to meet with them before you begin to ensure you feel comfortable with them.

If you are committed to making a lifestyle change, believe in the procedure and trust your hypnotherapist, gastric band hypnosis should work for you.

Is a virtual gastric band the right solution for me? 

Whether or not a virtual gastric band is right for you can depend on many different factors. For some people, it can be a great alternative to traditional surgery. Others may find it to be a helpful tool in creating positive lifestyle changes and sustainable weight loss.

Whatever your situation is, it’s important to remember that there are many different solutions and options available to you. 

Further reading

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