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Frequently Asked Questions about the Lap Band (Gastric Banding FAQs)

What are some of the advantages of the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB)?

There are several weight loss surgeries available today but adjustable Gastric Band is superior to many of them. It has several features that make it the safest method of weight control.

  • Simplicity - The procedure is simple to perform with a short operating time.
  • It can be placed laparoscopically without a large incision.
  • It does not require any opening in the gastrointestinal tract that reduces the risk of infection.
  • Safety: There is no staple line to burst.
  • It is adjustable and can be customised to individual needs.
  • It is fully reversible. The band can be emptied, for example, during pregnancy or prolonged illness allowing your stomach to return to former configuration or it can be removed (although removal is not indicated)
  • It is tolerated well by most persons of all ages and physical conditions.
  • This operation may be particularly suited to persons who are from 80 to 200 pounds overweight.
  • Short hospital stay (around 24 hours)
  • Lowest complication rate.
  • There is no mal-absorption or "dumping syndrome." The person can fully digest vitamins and minerals
    • Your BMI is = 40, or you weigh twice your ideal weight or are at least 100 pounds (45Kgs.) more than your ideal weight.
    • You have been overweight for more than 5 years
    • Your serious weight loss attempts have had only short-term success.
    • You are not suffering from any other diseases that may have caused your obesity.

Who is a good candidate for adjustable gastric banding?

You may be eligible for the lap band system surgery if :

  • Your BMI is = 40, or you weigh twice your ideal weight or are at least 100 pounds (45Kgs.) more than your ideal weight
  • You have been overweight for more than 5 years
  • Your serious weight loss attempts have had only short-term success
  • You are not suffering from any other diseases that may have caused your obesity

How much does a lap band cost?

A lap band in the United States costs $35,000 or more. Depending on your specific case, your insurance may or may not cover the cost of your lap band procedure. For affordable lap band surgery, many uninsured and underinsured Americans and others choose to have their lap band surgery abroad in countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, India, Singapore, Thailand, etc. where the cost of medical care is significantly lower compared to the cost of care in the US while the quality of care delivered is equivalent or superior to what is available in the United States, Canada, UK or other Western countries. Additionally, access to care is fast as there are virtually zero waiting periods. To learn about low cost high quality health care providers abroad offering the lap band procedure, register to Healthbase and get a FREE cost estimate for your lap band surgery at any of the affordable and internationally accredited healthcare providers in our network. 

How much weight will I lose after a lap band procedure?

This is not predictable; most of the patients will never be skinny people. But the majority can and do achieve a normal, healthy weight for their height and bone structure. Success after bariatric surgery is defined as losing 50 percentage of excess body weight. After a Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding, one loses an average 60 percentage of excess body weight at 18 months.

Which is a better option - lap band or gastric bypass?

After educating yourself to all the aspects of these operations you can decide with your surgeon which is the best operation. Both the operations can be performed laparoscopically in almost everyone.

The Lap-Band requires significant post-operative manipulation, has a re-operative rate that is high, but is the simplest procedure to perform. The Lap-Band probably has the lowest average weight loss and is a much slower weight loss than the other operations. The operative mortality is the lowest of all the procedures. There are occasional patients that do not lose significant weight after this operation

The gastric bypass is the most studied of all the bariatric operations. It is generally a safe and effective operation. There is a higher early complication rate than the Lap-Band.

Is it true that I`ll never be able to enjoy eating again if I have weight control surgery?

No. Patients who follow the guidelines to eating after weight control surgery will become people who eat food for quality and flavor, not for volume. They enjoy food more after surgery than they did before surgery. They pay more attention to what they are eating, are often pickier eaters, and don`t feel guilty about eating food.

Are there foods I can no longer eat?

You will be on a liquid diet at first progressing to a soft diet then to solids for the six-week healing phase. When properly adjusted, there are some foods that no longer are as easy to eat but most of bandsters can eat anything, just very small amounts. One can have trouble with soft mushy breads, tough or dry meats, skins of certain fruits or vegetables such as grapes, potatoes and tomatoes or very fibrous foods like asparagus or pineapple.

Can I drink alcohol or soda pop?

Alcohol is not a good idea because it is a stomach irritant and is high in calories. It is always better to consume solid food with daily 1200 calories rather than drink them. However, one can have a drink occasionally. Beer, soda pop or any carbonated beverage is not recommended because of the potential to stretch your pouch. You may find the carbonation very uncomfortable after you are properly adjusted. However an occasional (once a week) drink may be consumed in moderation.

When I reach my goal weight do I need to remove my band?

No, most of the patients plateau with weight loss when they get close to a normal weight and stop losing. If you continue to lose beyond your ideal weight, some of the fluid may be removed from your band to stabilize your weight. Most banded people regain most if not all of their excess weight if the band is removed.

Will I have excessive loose skin after a lap band surgery? How can surplus skin be removed?

Depending on how much weight you loose, the time elapsed after surgery and your beginning weight, you may or may not have excessively loose skin. In case of surplus skin, your plastic surgeon may advise an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) to remove the extra skin around your abdomen. However, it is advised that you wait at least a year following your lap band surgery before considering any plastic surgeries so your body has had enough time to respond to the lap band treatment and has recovered on its own.

How long does recovery take after a lap band procedure?

Recovery varies from individual to individual. In general, you may be able to return to your normal daily routine within 4 days of the surgery.

How often do I need to have the lap band filled?

To obtain optimum weight loss results with your lap band you may need to have your lap band adjusted two to three times in the first year following the surgery. Subsequent visits for filling in the second and third years are spaced further apart depending on your individual case.

If I get pregnant will I be able to get enough nutrition for my baby?

Many patients have become pregnant after both gastric bypass and the Lap-Band procedure. In fact, several studies have demonstrated that significant weight loss can improve fertility and one recent, excellent study from Australia showed that weight loss after the Lap-Band improves fertility in morbidly obese women. There is also a syndrome called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), which can lead to infertility. This syndrome involves excessive hair growth and hormonal changes that generally resolve with dramatic weight loss after bariatric surgery. As far as getting enough appropriate nutrition to have a safe pregnancy, this has not been a demonstrated problem with either the Lap-Band or the gastric bypass. However, you are recommended to consult with your bariatric program nutritionist to be safe if you do get pregnant.

Can the lap band be removed? What are the consequences of doing so?

Yes, the lap band can be removed. However, removal of lap band causes the stomach to return to its original size and causes you to regain weight so you can no longer enjoy weight loss benefits.

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