Lap-Band Surgery: Procedure, Diet, Benefits, Side Effects, & More

The rate of overweight and obesity among adults and children worldwide is steadily increasing. In the US alone, more than 2 out of 3 adults are considered overweight or obese.

Obesity is a condition in which a person develops excess body fat.

We all know obesity is harmful to our health. For some, it can be just embarrassing, for others, it can also be life-threatening.

So how to deal with it?

Well, weight loss is the only way to deal with the problem of obesity. There are 3 common ways to lose weight:

  • First, we can reduce calorie consumption.
  • Second, we can increase physical activity to burn calories. Or we can do both together for better results.
  • Third, we can take medication that can help reduce hunger, and speed up metabolism.

And when all these options fail, then weight loss surgery is considered the safest and most effective way of permanent weight loss. A well-known name in weight loss surgery is lap-band surgery.

Well, today, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about lap-band surgery.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

What is a lap-band?

The LAP-BAND device is an implantable silicone ring designed to be placed surgically around the top of the stomach to decrease stomach size and reduce food intake.

According to Dr. Chris Cobourn at SmartShape, the lap band consists of three parts: the band, the tubing, and the port. The band is placed around the top of the stomach. This leaves about an inch of stomach above the band that we call “the pouch”. The pouch is unique because it is richly supplied with sensors and receptors that send signals to the brain that when this part of the stomach fills with food. It tells the body that it’s full.

What is lap-band (gastric-band) surgery?

Lap-band surgery is an FDA approved weight loss treatment in which a lap-band is fastened around the upper end of the stomach, just below the point where the oesophagus ends, creating a smaller upper pouch called a stoma. The stoma limits the amount of food that goes to the main part of your stomach. As a result, hunger is reduced and you get satisfaction even after eating small amounts of food.

Lap-Band Surgery: Procedure, Diet, Benefits, Side Effects, & More 1

According to Dr. Jacob Haiavy, for many people suffering from obesity, the lap-band procedure can be an effective method for significant weight loss, even when traditional methods of weight loss have failed. Lap-band surgery is also known as laparoscopic bariatric surgery and adjustable gastric band surgery. It is an adjustable weight loss procedure — your surgeon can tighten or loosen the lap-band if you need to increase or decrease your food intake during the treatment period — and you will enjoy consistent results.

Who are eligible candidates for lap-band surgery?

Lap-band surgery can be a very good option for some, but it is not recommended for all who consider themselves overweight at the behest of others.

First of all, to lose weight, people should concentrate on common methods such as reducing calorie consumption by supervised dieting and simultaneously burning calories by increasing physical activities.

Even after doing all this diligently, if you do not see any benefit, then you should consult the specialists of bariatric surgery about weight loss. The bariatric surgeon will help you determine, through specific criteria, whether a surgical solution is the last option. Here are the complete eligibility criteria for the candidates:

Body Mass Index (BMI):

The very first eligibility criteria for lap-band surgery is to determine body fat with a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI). All people fall within one of the following BMI categories:

  • Underweight = <18.5
  • Normal weight = 18.5–24.9
  • Overweight = 25–29.9
  • Obesity = 30-39.9
  • Severe obesity = BMI over 40

Here is how BMI is calculated:

BMI = weight (kg) / [height (m)]2

For an adult with height of 170 cm (1.7 m) and weight of 75 kg, BMI will be:
75/(1.7*1.7) = 75/2.89 = 25.95

An ideal candidate’s BMI for lap-band surgery would typically be over 40. People with one or more obesity-related comorbid conditions with a BMI between 30 and 40 may also be considered for lap-band surgery.

Age:

Eligible candidate for lap-band surgery must be at least 18 years old.

Alcohol/ Drugs:

An ideal candidate for lap-band surgery should not be consuming alcohol in excess and should not be addicted to drugs.

Weight loss history:

An ideal candidate for lap-band surgery should already have a history of at least 6 months of unsuccessful weight loss attempts such as supervised diet, exercise, or both.

Pregnancy:

An ideal candidate for lap-band surgery should not be pregnant. If the candidate is pregnant after placement of the gastric band, she may need to adjust or remove the lap-band.

Medical conditions:

An ideal candidate for lap-band surgery should not be suffering from any other conditions at present. You need to consult a medical professional if you have:

  • chronic liver disease
  • inflammatory diseases
  • chronic pancreatitis
  • respiratory diseases
  • cardiovascular disease
  • congenital disorder
  • connective tissue disease
  • infection in any part of the body
  • history of long-term steroid use
  • portal hypertension

How is the lap-band surgery performed?

According to Dr. Haiavy, lap-band surgery is usually performed by a bariatric surgeon under general anaesthesia and can be completed within 30 to 60 minutes.

In lap-band surgery, adjustable gastric banding is performed laparoscopically. Through very small incisions in the abdomen, a silicone tube is wrapped around the upper part of the stomach and secured with sutures to prevent the band from slipping. Thin tubing connects the band to a saline port, which rests just below the skin on the abdomen, where it can be easily accessed for adjustments.

The tube makes it so that you can physically eat less in one sitting, also suppresses hunger so you are less likely to eat more than you need at any given time. As you start to eat less and find it easier to live on smaller amounts of food, you will begin to shed the extra weight fairly consistently.

How long it takes to recover after lap-band surgery?

Dr. Haiavy added: after your lap-band procedure is the recovery period, which is different for each patient. Proper preparation and research will help to give you the best recovery period possible. After your procedure, your weight loss journey will include careful monitoring of what you eat as well as your activity level.

By discussing in detail your food and activity plans at your personal consultations, you will be able to create a plan that works for you and yields incredible results. Patients typically go home within 24 hours and can resume work and light activity within 1 week. Regular exercise can be gradually resumed in 4 to 6 weeks.

What is a lap-band fill?

Lap-band fills are the simple, quick and painless adjustments that are made to the levels of saline within the band after surgery. Your weight loss surgeon does this after surgery to allow more or less food into the stomach, ensuring your procedure is completely customized, efficient and controlled based on what is best for you.

“You will need to come in for weekly or biweekly appointments for your adjustments. Many patients require several adjustments to their Lap-Band, especially during the first few years. After the first few years, it is common to have an annual adjustment”, Dr. Haiavy told Healthroid.

How to prepare yourself emotionally and physically for the lap-band surgery?

To benefit from weight loss surgery, one must also be committed to making long-term lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and regular exercise. But dramatic weight loss is more than a physical transformation—it is a mental and emotional transformation as well that requires you to make long-term commitments to a healthy lifestyle. It is important for providers and patients to collaborate and seek out psychological, nutritional counselling, and exercise training to ensure patients enjoy long-lasting success.

Dr. Haiavy has the following advice for people who are going to have lap-band surgery:

  • Set Reasonable and Achievable Expectations: Many people have an expectation that their weight loss will occur immediately following their lap-band procedure. In practice, the weight is lost steadily over time, with some patients taking two to three years before they are able to see the full effects. Reaching your dream weight may sometimes take longer, depending on the intensity of your weight-loss plan and the way that your body stores fat.
  • Focus on the End Goal: One crucial time during your recovery period is the two-year marker, at which time many patients have lost a significant amount of weight. This makes it difficult to remain focused, and keep blocking out diet temptations and distractions that can prevent you from exercising. Regained weight can be a serious disappointment, and extra care must be taken at this point to prevent a downward spiral.
  • Have a Support System: After successfully undergoing weight loss surgery and shedding pounds, the majority of patients experienced dramatically lower rates in the incidence and severity of depression symptoms. Regardless, Support from your friends and family is one of the most important aspects of a successful lap-band experience. With strong ties and commitments to those who want you to succeed, you will have improved determination and a stronger will. 
  • Be Honest About Your Journey: Sharing your story with others via a blog can provide encouragement when you need it most. It helps you to truly feel the weight of your accomplishments and to create a record of what you are feeling during this important time.

What are the benefits of lap-band surgery?

The lap-band procedure is a path towards successful and healthy weight loss. If you do not do anything about your weight, then your weight can never be reduced. In contrast, lap-band helps most people to lose extra weight in the same condition.

The lap-band helps limit your food intake and makes you feel full faster and boosts your weight loss. According to Dr. John Olsofka, here are some benefits to lap-band surgery:

  • Lap-band surgery is the least invasive bariatric procedure and does not alter anatomy. So it has very few chances of wound infections and hernias.
  • It has the lowest postoperative complications, lowest mortality rate, almost no risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies because all food eaten is completely absorbed using your natural unaltered stomach. 
  • The Lap-band is also adjustable and reversible so as to adapt to your changing life needs. Adjustability means it can be tightened or loosened. And, reversibility means, it can also be easily removed according to your needs.

Obesity is highly correlated with cancer risk including uterine, gallbladder, kidney, liver, and colon cancers. Weight loss resulting from the Lap-Band has been shown to resolve or improve serious obesity-related health conditions in many people, including Type II Diabetes, Hypertension, Asthma, Sleep Apnea, and GERD.

What are the side effects of lap-band surgery?

According to Dr. Haiavy, there are minimal negative side effects reported outside of Nausea, vomiting or indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea after eating certain foods or exceeding the quantity your stomach can handle.

You may lose weight quickly in the first 3 to 6 months after surgery. During this time, you may have Body aches, Feel tired and cold, Dry skin, Mood changes, Hair loss or hair thinning. These symptoms are normal and should go away as your body gets used to your weight loss.

Losing a lot of weight is a great accomplishment and a step towards a healthier, more active life. However, excess, sagging skin can present a new set of challenges, keeping patients from fully enjoying the benefits of their weight loss. Skin removal surgery completed by a board-certified cosmetic surgeon includes a range of procedures performed after major weight loss to remove and address excess skin folds on the arms, legs, torso and/or buttocks.

He added: a board-certified cosmetic surgeon can restore more natural body contours and help patients achieve a more aesthetically pleasing shape. Body contouring after bariatric surgery can dramatically enhance patients comfort helping them move with greater ease, and feel more confident in their clothing and skin. 

Of note, one positive side effect is that lap-band surgery has been shown to improve urinary continence in patients.

What are the risks and complications of lap-band surgery?

According to Dr. Olsofka, Placement of the Lap-Band is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur (but extremely rare compared to other surgical procedures for weight loss). Possible complications include the inherent risk of general anaesthesia and the risk of infection associated with any implant.

Most common related adverse events include: Band slippage, pouch dilation, band obstruction, gastroesophageal reflux (if the band is too tight), oesophagal dilation, incisional infection, or nausea and vomiting may occur.

What type of surgeon performs lap-band surgery?

According to Dr. Haiavy, lap-band surgery should be performed by an experienced, qualified bariatric surgeon. It is recommended that this surgeon have completed a Bariatric Surgery Fellowship at an accredited University or Hospital, as well as have professional associations through the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), the American College of Surgeons, Fellow (F.A.C.S.), the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) and the American Medical Association.

What diet to follow after lap-band surgery?

According to Dr. Cobourn, there are a few diet stages patients should follow to reintroduce food into their system after the surgery. The dietitian at the bariatric centre will guide the patient through those stages during the recovery process.

Once completing those stages, patients can eat normal foods but in smaller portions. Patients should avoid foods and drinks that produce gas in the stomach, such as carbonated water and soda.

Patients should also not drink with meals or gulp down large quantities of liquid, as their stomachs will fill up faster after the lap-band. They should slowly sip water between meals to stay hydrated.

We recommend focusing on nutrient-rich healthy foods and limited processed foods that lack nutrients.

What is difference between lap-band surgery and gastric sleeve surgery?

If you are struggling with obesity, there are many weight loss surgery options that are highly effective for you. Two of which are the most popular – sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) surgery and adjustable gastric band (lap-band) surgery.

According to Dr. Olsofka, the Lap-Band helps you take control over your weight because only the Lap-Band can be adjusted to accommodate your body and your life change over time, helping to provide sustainable weight loss over the long term. This bariatric surgery is reversible.

Sleeve gastrectomy removes 80% of the stomach, patients lose weight because of loss of volume of their stomachs; however, this bariatric surgery is irreversible and involves cutting and stapling of the stomach.

The Healthroid Team is committed to delivering content with the highest editorial standards. This article is thoroughly medically reviewed by Dr. Jacob Haiavy and Dr. John Olsofka.

The Healthroid Team is committed to delivering content with the highest editorial standards. This article is thoroughly medically reviewed by Dr. Jacob Haiavy and Dr. John Olsofka.

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