The LAP Band is a type of adjustable gastric band used for weight loss surgery. During surgery, a silicone band is placed around the stomach, limiting the amount of food that may be consumed. By reducing stomach capacity, the band helps people feel full while eating less, leading to gradual weight loss. Gastric banding procedures are the second most popular form of bariatric surgery behind gastric bypass procedures.
Are You a Candidate?
The LAP band is intended for adults with a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or higher. These patients are at least 80-100 pounds overweight. It may also be used in patients with a BMI over 30, placing them in the ‘obese’ category, if their excess weight has significantly impacted their health. Most candidates have struggled with their weight for most of their adult life and weight loss efforts such as diet and lifestyle changes have had minimal success. Ideal patients are committed to making major lifestyle changes along with surgery. This procedure is not the right weight loss tool for all patients, though thousands of patients have lost their excess weight with this surgical method.
Lap Band Procedure
The procedure takes about one to two hours and is performed with general anesthesia. Some patients return home the same day while others spend one or two nights in the hospital after surgery. It is usually performed laparoscopically, using a small camera and special surgical tools. The advantage of this method is that it requires short incisions, sometimes less than an inch long, rather than a larger abdominal incision and the resulting scar.
During surgery, the adjustable band is placed around the upper portion of the stomach. This band constricts the movement of food through the digestive tract, slowing digestion and limiting the amount of food that can be consumed at each meal. The band may be adjusted in size through saline injections allowing the doctor to adjust the usable size of the stomach.
There is also a similar adjustable banding procedure on the market called the REALIZE Band which works in a similar manner.
Like all surgical procedures, it does come with some risks. The potential complications include bleeding and infection. Although rare, the band may tear the wall of the stomach, a condition known as gastric perforation. If patients eat too much or too quickly they may experience nausea or vomiting. Frequent overeating could cause the gastric band to slip out of place. Although few deaths have been reported in association with gastric band surgery (about two in 10,000) it is a possibility that must be considered. Because patients who undergo LAP Band are obese, they may have additional health concerns related to the safety of this procedure. These should be discussed with the surgeon prior to undergoing weight loss surgery.
After surgery, some patients recover at home while others spend a night or two in the hospital. During the recovery period, the patient is restricted to two weeks of a liquid-only diet, followed by two weeks of soft foods, before solid foods may be resumed. Many patients experience discomfort or pain in the first few days of recovery. Because of this, your doctor may prescribe medication or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers. Most patients are able to return to work within two to three weeks depending on the nature of their job, although it will take up to six weeks before patients can resume strenuous exercise or heavy lifting.
The band may be adjusted four to six times in the first year after surgery to ensure steady weight loss over time. This adjustment, or ‘fill,’ takes place in the doctor’s office. A port placed under the skin at the time of surgery allows for the pain-free injection of saline to tighten or loosen the band.
Many LAP band patients lose five to ten pounds a month, and more than half of their excess weight within two years of the surgery. Individual results vary greatly depending on the patient’s starting weight and commitment to lifestyle changes.
What Does LAP Band Cost?
The average cost of LAP Band surgery is around $15,000 to $20,000. Many insurance plans will cover the cost of weight loss surgery, particularly if the excess weight has contributed to medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. If you must pay out of pocket for part or all of the expense, ask your doctor about financing options and payment plans that can help with the cost.