Laparoscopic gastric banding is a weight loss procedure performed by a surgeon. During the surgery, a flexible band is placed around the upper portion of your stomach in order to create a small pouch. The device restricts how much food you can eat and makes you feel full after eating just a little food. Once the Lap Band surgery is complete, your surgeon will be able to make band adjustments as needed. The lap band procedure is a part of a surgical weight loss program. Your surgeon will work with you to devise a plan that meets your unique needs. Your plan will require your full participation, and you will need to commit to following the plan according to your surgeon’s instructions.
How Lap Band Surgery Works
To have lap band surgery, an anesthesiologist will put you under general anesthesia. The medication helps you to fall asleep and remain free of pain throughout the lap band procedure. The surgeon makes between two and five incisions and inserts a small camera called a laparoscope. The surgical instruments are inserted through the incisions as the doctor watches the images of the camera, which are projected onto a monitor. The surgeon then places the band around the upper 15 percent of your stomach. The band separates the upper and lower parts of your belly. Your stomach does not have to be cut or stapled. For most patients, the surgery only takes about 30 to 60 minutes. If you also need to have your gallbladder removed, it can be done at the same time through the same incisions. The doctor then stitches the incisions shut. A small port is placed into your abdomen. The port provides an access point for the surgeon to make future adjustments to the band.
Why the Lap Band Procedure is Performed
Your surgeon may recommend the lap band procedure for you if you are severely obese and have not succeeded at losing the excess weight through diet and exercise. Most surgeons use the body mass index (BMI) as a guideline to determine if you qualify for the lap band procedure. A healthy body weight results in a BMI of 18.5 to 25. To qualify for the lap band, you should have a BMI of 40 or higher. If you have a BMI of at least 35 and one additional serious health issue such as sleep apnea or asthma that are affected by obesity, this may also qualify you for the weight loss surgery.
Lap Band Adjustments
The lap band is made out of a special formulation of rubber that includes some silicon for flexibility. The inside of the band is outfitted with a balloon that can be inflated. The doctor may inject saline solution into your port to inflate the balloon more. This tightens the band and makes your stomach pouch smaller. This may be done if your weight loss is not as rapid as expected. If your weight loss is too quick, your surgeon can remove some of the liquid in the balloon and loosen the band. This would allow you to eat more. You may need to have the band tightened or loosened if you are having difficulty eating, get full too quickly or are not losing enough weight. A band adjustment does not require any medication and can be done on an outpatient basis in the doctor’s office.
What to Expect After Lap Band Surgery
You can expect the lap band surgery to help you lose 33 to 50 percent of your excess body weight, although results do vary. Most people will lose weight gradually over the course of about three years after the lap band surgery. Your dietary choices and the addition of a physical fitness routine will also be important to the rate of your weight loss. Your surgeon can help you to make a healthy eating plan and start up a fitness regimen. If you have never exercised before, your doctor may advise you to start slowly and work up your endurance and intensity as you continue to lose weight.
The initial weight loss may also make it easier for you to exercise because you may have less joint pain and fewer problems with asthma. The lap band surgery can also help you with some of the other medical conditions that you may have and that are related to obesity, although results vary. Some of the conditions that the procedure can sometimes help to improve include asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes.