If you choose to look into the possibilities of weight loss surgery, you have to be sure that there are no other options out there first. Going through surgery is never without risks, and it is quite costly as well. If you have been approved for a lap band, you will also have to go through various tests before it is determined whether or not you really are a good candidate.
Eligible or Not?
Those who have any type of inflammatory disease in their gastrointestinal system, like Crohn’s disease, esophagitis or ulcers, will not be eligible. Similarly, people with hypothyroidism and those who have a current dependency on drugs or alcohol will not be offered the surgery. Finally, some people may have allergies to some parts of the lap band, which will be checked.
Those who are eligible are usually:
- Between 18 and 55.
- Significantly overweight with a BMI of at least 40 (or between 30 and 40 but with extra medical conditions caused by being overweight).
- Overweight by at least 100 pounds.
How the Lap Band Works
A lap band is inserted through keyhole or laparoscopic surgery. This minimizes pain, recovery time and risk of infection. A band is placed around the top part of the stomach and is then inflated through a port just underneath the skin. Once the band is in place, the stomach is effectively reduced to a small pouch that holds just 50ml. This obviously fills very quickly, which means people feel full after eating just a small bit of food. As a result, people will eat less frequently and in smaller amounts, eventually leading to weight loss.
Expected Weight Loss
Different patients respond differently to the surgery. Overall, the speed with which weight is loss tends to be slower than with other procedures, most notably the Roux-en-Y bypass. However, statistics also show that the overall outcome over a period of five years is very similar. Furthermore, it is not recommended to lose more than 1.1 to 2.2 pounds each week, which means the lap band is considered a healthier option.
Once someone has gone through the surgery, they will have regular “fills”. This means that the band is further inflated or deflated. Usually, before a first fill, patients will still be able to eat a considerable amount. However, once the first fill has been completed, they will only have a very small stomach left. Some doctors gradually build up to the smallest possible stomachs, whereas others immediately reduce it, which also makes a difference in outcomes.
A number of complications can happen. Most commonly:
- Slippage, whereby the bottom part of the stomach prolapses, creating an obstruction.
- Regurgitation, whereby the undigested food is passed back up into the mouth. This is commonly referred to as “productive burping”.
Both complications are not normal and require immediate medical attention. It is also important to understand that a lap band is a surgical procedure, and people have died during these procedures, even if it is generally very safe.