Lap Band Surgery

Lap-Band SurgeryLap band surgery (laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding) is a minimally invasive weight loss surgery procedure in which an adjustable silicone band is placed around the top of the stomach. The lap band creates a smaller stomach pouch that restricts the amount of food that can be eaten and a smaller stomach opening that slows the movement of food to help the patient feel full sooner. A tube connects the band to an access port which is placed beneath the skin to allow the surgeon to make adjustments (fills) to the band by adding or removing saline.

Lap Band Surgery Helps with Weight Loss

The lap band promotes weight loss by restricting food intake, controlling hunger, and creating a feeling of fullness (satiety). The goal of lap band surgery is to help the patient eat less and thus lose weight.

Good Candidates for Lap Band Surgery

Weight loss surgery, including lap band surgery, is not for everyone who wants to lose weight, but for those who have been struggling with chronic obesity for many years. A good candidate for lap band surgery has a BMI of 40 or higher (morbidly obese), or a BMI of at least 35 with obesity co-morbidities, or is at least 100 pounds overweight if a male and 80 pounds overweight if a female.

Lap Band Surgery

Obesity Co-Morbidities

Obesity co-morbidities are health conditions resulting from or associated with obesity. Some of the most prevalent health obesity co-morbidities are diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.

Benefits of Lap Band Surgery

The benefits of lap band surgery are significant weight loss and a reduction in obesity co-morbidities. Not only will the lap band help you lose weight, but as you lose weight you will see an overall improvement in your health. Many health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea are either cured or significantly improved. As your health improves you'll feel better, be able to be more active, save money on medical expenses related to obesity, and increase your life span.

Advantages of Lap Band Surgery Compared to Other Types of Weight Loss Surgery

Compared to other types of weight loss surgery, the advantages of lap band surgery are it's safety, adjustability, reversibility, shorter hospital stay, and quicker recovery. There is also no cutting, stapling, or rerouting of the stomach or intestines with lap band surgery, such as there is with gastric bypass surgery.

Possible Complications of Lap Band Surgery

Lap band surgery is considered a safe procedure, but any surgical procedure has known risks. Risks associated with any type of surgery include bleeding and infection, but specific to the lap band is the chance of band slippage as you lose weight causing heartburn or vomiting (can be fixed), band leakage or band erosion (rarely occurs), procedure must be done open rather than laparoscopically, stomach pouch can enlarge (this can happen with any weight loss surgery), or the stoma (stomach outlet) can become blocked (usually due to improper food choices or lack of adequate chewing by patient).

Why You Need to Stop Smoking before Lap Band Surgery

Patients who are planning to have lap band surgery are asked to quit smoking six to eight weeks before surgery. Patients who do not smoke have fewer complications and it takes at least a month for the lungs to recover. Smoking damages the lungs which increases the chance of surgical complications, anesthetic problems, and developing pneumonia after surgery. Also, the goal of weight loss surgery is about improving your health and smoking contradicts this desired result.

Surgery Time for the Lap Band Procedure

It usually takes less than one hour for a surgeon to perform the lap band procedure.

Recovery Time for Lap Band Surgery

Most lap band patients can expect to leave the hospital within 24 hours, return to work in about one week, and resume exercising in about four to six weeks. If the patient has complications or open surgery, recovery may take longer.

Lap Band Fills

Lap band adjustments, otherwise known as lap band fills, are an important part of the lap band process. After surgery, the band is empty. The first fill will be approximately six weeks after surgery. After that, most patients usually need three or four more fills within the first year, and once or twice a year in following years. Lap band fills are needed to adjust the size of the stomach opening and to replace saline that slowly seeps out from the band membrane over time.

Exercise and Lap Band Surgery

Exercise is an important part of weight loss and overall health because it burns calories and helps to build and preserve muscle. Weight loss without daily exercise will cause the body to consume muscle tissue, causing loss of muscle mass and strength. Lap band patients will usually be asked to slowly start walking on the day of surgery and continue walking on a regular basis until full recovery at about six weeks after surgery when more strenuous exercises can be added. Your doctor will discuss an appropriate exercise routine for you to follow after lap band surgery.

Hair Loss after Lap Band Surgery

One of the causes of hair loss is rapid weight loss. Some lap band patients may notice some hair loss at four to six months after surgery, but it is usually not noticeable to others. The hair follicles will eventually return to normal as weight stabilizes and the hair will grow back. Hair loss can also be caused by a reduced intake of protein and the mineral zinc, so your doctor may recommend supplements after surgery.

Pregnancy after Lap Band Surgery

One of the benefits of the lap band is that it can be adjusted. If you become pregnant, the band can be emptied to allow for proper nourishment. However, weight loss patients are usually advised to avoid getting pregnant during the first one to two years following surgery. Most weight loss occurs in the first years following surgery. Rapid weight loss and nutritional deficiencies can be harmful to the developing fetus.

Female patients should take precautions to avoid pregnancy during this time, especially since women become more fertile as they lose weight and hormone levels become more regular. Once weight loss is over and the patient can resume a regular diet, a healthy pregnancy is possible for mother and child.

Weight Loss with Lap Band Surgery

Lap band patients typically lose 50% of their excess body weight within two years after being banded. Weight is lost at a safe and gradual rate, about one pound a week, although some patients may lose two to three pounds a week in the first year after the procedure. Average weight loss with the lap band varies from patient to patient and the overall amount of weight loss will depend on a person's commitment to new eating habits and exercise routines.