What is Lap-Band Surgery?
Lap-band surgery, also called adjustable gastric banding, is considered one of the least invasive weight-loss options. This bariatric procedure first debuted in 2001, making it one of the oldest available surgical options. Some patients interested in the potential benefits of bariatric surgery may be concerned about treatment cost or committing to a permanent procedure. The Tijuana Bariatric Center offers the LAP-BAND® system in Tijuana, Mexico, as an affordable and safe way of reaching your weight loss goals.
The term LAP-BAND® connotes a specific device made by Allergan Inc., yet lap-band is commonly associated with gastric banding. Several other companies manufacture these devices, including REALIZE®, MIDBAND®, and Heliogast®, all of which surgeons use to accomplish a lap-band surgery. Tijuana Bariatric Center offers the Allergan LAP-BAND® and REALIZE® systems to accommodate different sized patients. All work in the same manner to produce significant long-term weight loss and improve or remedy obesity-related conditions in individuals with high body mass index (BMI).
What is Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery?
Adjustable gastric banding involves implanting a soft silicone ring with an expandable balloon around the upper part of the stomach, effectively creating two compartments.
The surgeon attaches the lap band via a soft tubing to an injection port under the skin. This device allows your doctor to periodically adjust the band's tightness. Adding saline to the band makes the orifice smaller between the pouch it creates in the top part of the stomach and the lower main section. When fitted correctly, the lap band helps patients feel full with less food to allow them to lose as much as 70% of their excess weight.
Your bariatric surgeon performs this surgery laparoscopically via small incisions in the upper part of the abdomen. The band creates a restriction that limits the amount of food that your stomach can hold.
The LAP-BAND® system consists of an inflatable silicone ring, attached to a thin tube connected to an external access port. Doctors modify the stomach’s storage capacity by adjusting the amount of saline or silicone in the tube. As more saline or silicone is added, constriction increases and a patient will feel fuller faster. If necessary, the band can easily be removed altogether. The resulting flexibility allows patients to adjust their results over time. Treatment goals can be met and maintained to complement lifestyle or health changes, while guarding against complications.
Patients often lose up to 70% of their excess weight and may continue shedding weight for up to three years after the procedure.
How Does the Lap-Band Work?
This surgical treatment works by controlling hunger and portion size, as the upper portion of the stomach created by the device only allows you to eat a small amount at one time.
When the gastric pouch fills, that part of the stomach sends signals to your brain that you are full. The amount you eat also takes longer to pass through your stomach due to the small opening of the adjustable gastric band. Digestion occurs normally.
For gastric band weight loss to succeed, your lap-band must undergo periodic adjustments, called a fill, usually performed in a doctor's office.
The first adjustment takes place about six to eight weeks after surgery. During each fill, your doctor will insert a small needle through your skin into the access port to either add or remove saline fluid depending on several factors, including weight loss.
Adding saline makes the opening between the stomach's two sections smaller, making the passage of food slower. The fluid goes into the band placed around the upper stomach for more restriction. Removing saline allows more rapid passage of food.
What Does a Lap-Band Look Like?
Lap-band devices are made of hollow radiopaque silicone and look like a donut-shaped balloon. They are able to absorb x-rays, so it’s important to tell other health care professionals that you have this device. The band has an inflatable inner surface, plus tubing and a plastic access port.
How is Lap-Band Surgery Performed?
An anesthesiologist administers general anesthesia to make you sleep during the procedure. Your bariatric surgeon will make several small cuts in the upper abdomen to insert a laparoscope and surgical instruments to guide the gastric band into place and tighten it to make a small upper pouch. The fluid tube and the port will be placed under the skin and attached to the band.
The procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes. You’ll spend one to two hours in the recovery room afterward so the hospital staff can monitor your vital signs.
How Successful is Lap-Band Surgery?
Lap-Band results differ from other types of weight-loss surgeries. Patients who undergo Lap-Band often lose weight at a slower pace than with gastric bypass surgery or gastric sleeve. You can continue to lose weight for up to three years after surgery.
On average, patients will initially lose 40% to 60% of their excess body weight.
That said, results vary widely depending on your motivation and compliance in eating and performing sufficient exercise. Most patients can expect to lose one to two pounds per week in the first year.
The lap-band procedure may not provide the same results as more invasive bariatric surgeries. Super-obese patients with a BMI of more than 50 may be better off thinking about another type of surgery.
What to Expect After Lap-Band Surgery
You'll be sore at the incision site for about a week after the operation. Most patients experience gradual weight loss that starts almost immediately.
For the most part, you won't feel the device, except when eating. To lose your desired amount of excess weight, you must commit to healthy habits, including eliminating junk food and increasing exercise for the rest of your life.
What Can You Eat After Lap-Band Surgery?
The post-lap-band diet is similar to those for other bariatric surgeries, like gastric sleeve or gastric bypass. You'll find yourself gradually introducing items into your diet. You will need to eat slowly, starting with liquids and then progressing to pureed foods before you will be able to eat solids.
Eating too quickly can cause pain and vomiting. Some "normal foods" may cause gastric distress, so add new foods slowly to ensure that your system can tolerate them. To avoid weight regain, remember to follow a healthy diet for the rest of your life.
Recovery Time for Gastric Lap-Band Surgery
Recovery varies with each individual. In general, lap-band offers a shorter hospitalization and quicker recovery than gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy.
Most people can return to work one week after surgery if their job is not physically demanding. Normal activity can resume after about six weeks.
Lap-Band Surgery: Pros and Cons
Gastric band bariatric surgery is ideal for patients who desire a minimally invasive procedure.
When evaluating gastric bypass vs. lap-band, patients should consider their BMI, how much weight they should lose, and consult a bariatric surgeon for advice.
Adjustable Gastric Banding Pros
- Approved by the FDA for people with a BMI of 30 or higher, with one or more obesity-related risk factors
- Minimally invasive
- No intestinal rerouting or cutting or stapling of the stomach or intestine
- Reduced patient pain, hospital length of stay, and recovery time
- Less scarring
- Less chance of infection than gastric bypass or gastric sleeve
- Lower risk of nutritional deficiencies
- No risk of dumping syndrome typically associated with gastric bypass
- Adjustable band allows customization of food flow during follow-up appointments to aid long-term weight loss
- Adjustments performed without additional surgery
- Approved for use during pregnancy
- Reversible, allowing the stomach to return to its original shape
- Improved health as significant weight loss alleviates weight-related health problems like hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea
Adjustable Gastric Banding Cons
- Weight loss tends to be less than with gastric sleeve or gastric bypass procedures
- Greater risk of postsurgical weight gain
- Between 15% and 40% of patientsrequire revision surgery
- The band will eventually require replacement
- Band slippage or deterioration can cause digestive problems
- Patients must go for regular adjustments, which some may find inconvenient
Laparoscopic Gastric Banding Complications and Side Effects
You may occasionally notice your access port, particularly right after surgery when you are recovering, and are a little sore.
Typical complications are often the same as other types of abdominal procedures. These include:
- Bleeding and infections
- Blood clots in the legs
- Breathing problems from general anesthesia
Specific lap-band complications from surgery include:
- Band slippage
- Stomach puncture
- Food not going into the stomach
Side effects include not being able to eat red meat, which can lead to anemia.
Is Gastric Band Surgery Reversible?
Lap-band surgery is reversible, but surgeons recommend not removing it because the device is meant to help you lead a healthy life, including the right diet and exercise.
Revision surgery is sometimes necessary when the band slips or erodes. More often, patients elect to convert the lap-band procedure to gastric sleeve or bypass because they have not lost sufficient weight.
Who is Eligible for Lap-Band Surgery?
Those eligible for this operation should be at least 18 years old and have a BMI of 40 or higher or are at least 100 pounds over their ideal weight.
People with lower BMI are considered if they have serious health problems associated with obesity. Other factors include:
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts to lose weight
- Absence of other diseases that may have caused obesity
- Willingness to make substantial changes in eating habits and lifestyle to improve health
Lap-band is not recommended for people with the following conditions:
- Inflammatory diseases
- Ulcers, severe esophagitis or Crohn’s disease
- Severe heart or lung disease
- Conditions that cause severe bleeding
- Abnormal stomach, esophagus or intestines
- Abdominal injury
- Chronic pancreatitis
Although LAP-BAND® surgery can be highly effective, the device does not guarantee weight loss. It is simply a tool to help you reach your goals. Patients need to be prepared for and committed to the exercise, diet, and lifestyle changes necessary to meet those goals. Additionally, the LAP-BAND® typically requires maintenance over time. Many patients need three to five band modifications to reach and maintain their results.
Investing in Your Health
Bariatric surgery has helped patients improve their confidence, become more active, and improve or eliminate weight-related health conditions. LAP-BAND® surgery can be life-changing, but its high price means many American patients are simply unable to afford this weight loss solution. Fortunately, patients can take advantage of low-cost LAP-BAND® surgery held to the same safety standards as those in the U.S. with procedures coordinated by the Tijuana Bariatric Center.
Low-Cost LAP-BAND® Treatment
The cost of the typical LAP-BAND® procedure in the U.S. can range from about $8,700 to $27,000. The average cost of LAP-BAND® surgery is $14,532.
Tijuana Bariatric Center patients receive quality care held to the same standards of excellence and safety as in the U.S. See this page: Cost and Financing for the cost of LAP-BAND® surgery coordinated by the Tijuana Bariatric Center.
The cost of LAP-BAND® surgery coordinated by the Tijuana Bariatric Center is $5,000. Especially for patients who do not have or are not using their medical insurance, these cost savings are substantial without compromising safety or quality. Patients can expect to undergo care at a center that is equipped with the latest technology, intensive care units with full certification, and in-house laboratory and radiology departments.
What Is Included?
For the patient’s convenience, treatment cost includes:
- Ground transportation to and from the San Diego airport
- Hotel fees
- Hospital fees
- Medical fees
- Pre- and post-operative tests
- Post-operative medication
Protecting Your Investment
Patients traveling for medical procedures often have concerns about how to ensure their safety and financial security. For this reason, the Tijuana Bariatric Center offers medical tourism insurance to patients that provides coverage for up to $5,000 against unforeseen events in the patient’s surgical procedure in Mexico. Patients have no deductible or coinsurance. Medical tourism insurance can give you peace of mind when undergoing a surgical procedure.
Maintaining Weight Loss
To maintain weight loss, Tijuana Bariatric Center patients will work with our bariatric nutritionist in the months after their surgery. This counseling enables patients to plan healthy meals with sufficient vitamins, proteins, and minerals to support weight loss and overall health. She is also available to patients after they return home for support regarding diet, as well as counseling in obstacles that arise, and how to best make their lifestyle changes permanent.
Is LAP-BAND® Right for Me?
Prospective patients should note that health professionals only recommend bariatric surgery when other options fail. Ideal candidates are severely overweight and have not responded to diet or exercise changes. Dr. Fernando Garcia can help guide you through the process of deciding which procedure is right for you.
For more information about the substantial impact LAP-BAND® surgery can have on your life, reach out to schedule an appointment today or call 800-970-0577.
Author: Dr. Fernando Garcia Govea
Dr. Garcia is a highly qualified surgeon, and has more than eight years of bariatric treatment experience and two decades in the medical field. His experience (10,000+ procedures) helps him work with all patients including those with a BMI of 80 or higher to improve their quality of life.
Read more here: Fernando Garcia Govea
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