Lap Band Surgery

In lap band weight loss surgery, a band placed around the top end of the stomach is used to dramatically reduce the size of the stomach.

Weight loss tends to be slightly slower than it is with older forms of surgery such as Roux-en-Y. The overall results however are comparable and compared with Roux-en-Y patients often fall into healthier eating patterns and tend towards more stable weight loss.

The Lap Band Procedure

Before undergoing the procedure patients need to carefully consider whether or not they are suitable for surgery. Potential patients should be over the age of 18 and morbidly obese with a body mass index (BMI) in excess of 40. Exceptions may be made in the presence of other obesity related illness. Patients are advised to try traditional forms of weight loss, including drug therapy, before opting for surgery, however if the patient is unsuccessful lap band surgery may be considered as an option.

During the procedure laparoscopic techniques are used to fasten a silicone band around the upper part of the stomach. The result is the creation of a new, smaller stomach pouch that reduces the capacity of the stomach and consequently limits the amount of food you eat. A small outlet is also created which slows the rate of emptying into the stomach and small intestines.

The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and typically lasts thirty minutes to an hour.

After Your Lap Band Surgery

Lap band surgery is generally considered to be the safest and least traumatic form of weight loss surgery. Unlike older forms of surgeries, such as Roux-en-Y, the stomach does not need to be cut, stapled or re-routed so patients usually experience little pain and can return home the same day as the surgery. Patients can usually return to work within the week, however it is advised that strenuous activity should be avoided for at least three weeks following surgery.

Following surgery patients are restricted to small portions of liquid and soft foods while solid foods are slowly reintroduced over the following few weeks. It is important for patients to refrain from over eating as failing to stop eating when full often leads to sickness and vomiting.

Long Term Outcome

The aim of lap band surgery is to reduce the capacity of the stomach in order to control appetite. Following surgery patients need to eat less food to feel full and consequently eat smaller portions throughout the day. The result is controlled, stable weight loss. Other long term benefits include the ability to adjust the lap band system in order to control the rate of weight loss or to accommodate for unexpected changes in lifestyle. During pregnancy, for example, the lap band system can be expanded in order to support a growing foetus. Similarly, in cases where weight loss is less than expected the band can tightened to further restrict appetite and facilitate more rapid weight loss.

Lap Band Surgery Risks

Although lap band surgery is largely considered to be the safest form of weight loss surgery available there are several underlying conditions which may cause complications should surgery be attempted.

Patients with an abnormal oesophagus, stomach or intestine may not be suitable as such abnormalities often lead to a narrowing of the digestive tract. Patients at risk of bleeding, from oesophageal varices for example, should also avoid surgery. Injury or scarring around the region where the band is to be fitted or the presence of gastrointestinal inflammatory disease (such as Crohn's disease, oesophagitis or ulcers) would also exclude certain patients from undergoing lap band surgery.

Finally, pregnant women or women who are considering pregnancy are also advised to consider other options. Although the lap band can be deflated to accommodate the increase in nutritional requirements during pregnancy, expansion of the band may not be sufficient and the band may need to be removed altogether. If this is the case, or for any other reason the lap band system needs to be removed, the stomach generally returns to its original form.

Lap Band Surgery Costs

The typical costs for lap band surgery are between $13,000 - $15,000, however costs may be influenced by a number of other factors.