Lap Band Surgery

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery

Laparoscopic gastric banding surgery (or lap band surgery for short) is a type of weight loss surgery that physically alters the size of the stomach to reduce food intake in overweight patients. The lap band procedure involves placing a silicone belt around the top of the stomach and pinching it closed to reduce the amount of food that can enter the digestive system at any one time.

Cost of Lap Band Surgery

Lap band costs range from $17,000 to $30,000. Insurance companies are increasingly willing to pay for part or even all of the procedure. In order to qualify, medical necessity must be substantiated by your doctor, and you should meet the National Institutes of Health (NIH) criteria for the surgery. If you aren't covered by your health insurance plan, you may wish to look into private cosmetic surgery financing or find a hospital that lets you pay for the surgery in monthly installments.

Patient Evaluation

The requirements for lab band obesity surgery are the same as for other weight loss surgeries as stipulated by the NIH. The patient needs to have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or between 35 and 39 if associated medical problems like diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol are present. This is not a form of cosmetic surgery; there need to be dramatic physical symptoms to merit using this procedure for weight loss.

The Lap Band Surgery Procedure

Lap band weight loss surgery is performed with a series of small incisions and a laparoscopic camera so that the surgeon can find the optimum position for the gastric band. The band is placed towards the top of the stomach, wrapped around it and sutured in place. This process generally takes about an hour and may require an overnight hospital stay.

A port beneath the skin on the upper area of the abdomen enables saline to be injected inside to inflate the band, reducing the size of the stoma, or the passage to the lower stomach. This limits the amount of food that can enter the lower stomach and the digestive tract. Alternatively, fluid can be removed from the port if the band is too tight.

Risks of Lap Band Surgery

All surgeries carry with them the potential of health risks or complications and this type of body surgery is no different. Bleeding and infections are always potential concerns. Lap band specific risks include the gastric band leaking and deflating, the stomach pouch enlarging or the stoma becoming blocked.

Recovering from the Operation

Many lap band surgery patients are able to return to work within a week of the operation without major discomfort. Initially, you'll need to be on a nutrition plan that will probably include a liquid diet for a few weeks, gradually moving up to soft and finally solid food. You may also be put on an exercise program as well as behavior modification therapy.

You'll have frequent return visits to have mandatory adjustments to the band. Expect to have six to eight adjustments to the lap band within the first 18 months of the operation. Statistics on lap band surgery results show that patients lose from 50 to 60 percent of their excess body weight inside of 2 years after having lap band surgery.

Alternative Procedures

There are few alternatives for safe and rapid weight loss. Surgery is reserved as the last step for patients who have exercised and dieted with no noticeable results and face increased risks to their health. Gastric banding procedures have largely replaced the older, riskier stomach stapling methods. Lap bands achieve the same effect of reducing stomach size, without actually altering the stomach. Lap bands are adjustable and removable, giving the physician much more control in avoiding complications. Gastric bypass surgery is another form of weight loss surgery, but is considered more invasive than lap band surgery, with similar results.