Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, or lap band, surgery has fast become accepted as the safest and least invasive form of weight loss surgery, since it was approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001.
Lap band surgery is a purely restrictive form of weight loss surgery and uses a small inflatable band around the top portion of the patient’s stomach to restrict the quantity of food that can be consumed and to slow the emptying of food from the stomach so that the patient constantly feels full.
Lap band surgery normally take up to an hour, with patients staying in hospital for no more than one night after surgery.
A stomach normally has a capacity of over 1000 cc but laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery reduces this to as little as 15 to 30 cc. This very much smaller stomach limits the intake of foods drastically and forces the body to start burning off its fat reserves, thus resulting in weight loss.
One great advantage of this type of weight loss surgery is that the surgeon can adjust the restriction on the stomach in the weeks following surgery through a port which is embedded in the wall of the abdomen just below the skin. This allows the surgeon to monitor the progress of the patient and to either restrict further or increase the amount of food that the patient can consume. This feature of lap band surgery not only results in a safer recovery, but also creates a healthier long term weight loss.
Patients undergoing lap band surgery must of course stick to a strict diet and for about 18 months will be restricted to eating less than 800 calories per day. Between 18 and 36 months patients will increase their intake gradually up to about 1200 calories each day. Patients also have to learn to drink fluids in small quantities throughout the day, avoiding fluids with meals, and will have to take vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of their lives.
The majority of patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery will lose approximately 60% of their excess weight, which is slightly less than would normally be seen in other forms of gastric bypass surgery.
Although there are many advantages to lap band surgery it is not without its problems, including such things as problems with the adjustment port, a malfunction or slippage of the band, erosion of the band into the wall of the stomach and infection. Its biggest problem for many patients however lies in the fact that weight loss tends to be fairly slow and, of all the procedures performed today, lap band surgery requires the greatest effort on the part of the patient in order to both lose weight and to maintain that weight loss.
Although lap band surgery is certainly very popular, it is not for everyone and individuals undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery need to be sufficiently disciplined to follow a strict diet and should be prepared to undergo a regular exercise program.