Lap-Band surgery is a weight loss option for those who need to lose a lot of weight--80 lbs or more for women, 100 lbs or more for men--a standard set by the American Society of Bariatric Surgery. Lap-Band patients, on average, lost 100 lbs. in the first year after surgery, about 50 percent of their excess weight, according to the Center for Treatment of Obesity at the University of California-San Diego.
While these results are impressive, there are other factors to consider before you consent to the procedure.
A Lap-Band is a silicone band that is inserted around the top of the stomach to help patients feel full sooner and thus eat less. The band has an inflatable ring, that can be inflated or deflated to adjust how much the stomach can expand. To change how much the ring is inflated, saline is inserted or released from a port in the abdomen. The location and the inflation rate of the ring can greatly affect the weight loss rate, according to Lapband.com, the official site for the Lap-Band System.
Lap-Band is a brand name. The procedure is also generically known as adjustable gastric banding.
As with any surgery, there are some risks to having Lap-Band surgery. The surgical site may become infected. The port or the inner tube may leak and need to be replaced. The spleen may be injured during the process. Over time, as the patient loses weight, the band may slip, resulting in vomiting and heart burn, and may need to be adjusted,
According to the Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery, Lap-Band surgery can range in price from $17,000 to $30,000, depending on where the surgery takes place.
Insurance may cover the procedure if the patient meets the guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health: Weight as listed above; a body mass index (BMI) above 40 or between 35 and 39 with associated severe heart problems, diabetes or other conditions; and a history of other weight loss attempts.
The costs of the procedure itself may not include presurgical testing, doctor visits and other costs related to the procedure. Other procedures may need to be performed as well, such as excess skin removal, gall bladder surgery, adjustment of the band etc.
The procedure generally lasts about 75 minutes. The patient may be hospitalized for up to three days and will likely be allowed to return to work in one week. She must follow a liquid diet for about two weeks, until soft foods can be tolerated. The patient will work with a nutritionist to gradually allow solid foods.
Typically, patients are restricted to an 800-calorie per day diet for the first 18 months after surgery. That calorie rate is increased to 1,200 calories per day by 36 months. This is known as a very low calorie diet, for which the average weight loss is 3 to 5 lbs. per week or 44 lbs. over 12 weeks.
Generally between six and eight office visits will be needed in the first 18 months to adjust the Lap-Band. The band may need to be adjusted if weight loss slows to about a pound a week six to eight weeks after surgery.
Results will vary depending on many factors, such as how well the patient adhered to the diet and exercise plan; how much weight he needed to lose.
Before the procedure, patients are required to follow a high protein/low carbohydrate diet (no bread, potatoes, rice or pasta) for several days. The length of this diet varies, depending on the patient's BMI. Many patients lose significant amounts of weight (7 to 10 lbs. in a week) before the surgery takes place.
In addition to the weight bloss, Lap-Band surgery has been shown to improve type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea and knee pain. Some of these symptoms disappear completely.
If patients are persistent with their diet and weight loss program, they may continue to lose 2 to 3 lbs. per week in the first year after the surgery. However, a pound a week rate is more typical. According to lapband.com, weekly weight loss declines after the first year. The site recommends against losing weight too quickly in order to avoid health problems.