Losing weight alone is a difficult task and a large amount of people struggling with overweight and obesity often seek professional help. There are numerous medically supervised weight loss programs, including behavioral changes, pre-packed meals, pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery, with surgery usually being the last resource for patients who have failed in previous attempts to lose weight. The Lap-Band, a medical device used in gastric banding surgery (a form of bariatric surgery) is one of the most common types of weight loss surgery.

The Lap-Band is meant for adult patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 40 kg/m2 or a BMI higher than 30 kg/m and at least one other comorbidity. During the procedure, a silicone band is placed around the stomach and its inflatable inner surface is connected through a tube to an access port. The system, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011, limits food intake, as the amount of fluid in the band is adjusted by the physician, further reducing the stomach’s capability to hold food.

Lap-Band Success After Surgery

In spite of the prevalence of so-called “Lap-Band Horror Stories” published on the internet, the Lap-Band has been rigorously tested in clinical trials and was officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011. To this day, the Lap-Band remains a recommended weight loss device by the FDA for helping obese and morbidly obese people to lose weight, as the device has been shown to aid in weight loss and the control of Type 2 diabetes, and is considered among the least invasive bariatric surgical procedures. The majority of Lap-Bands are placed effectively and, assuming that patients follow the guidelines of the system, are effective in helping people lose weight.

The success of a Lap-Band procedure includes several key parameters, starting with a safe surgery. Lap-Band surgery has a very low mortality rate of only 0.1%. However, in 26% of the cases, there are complications right after the procedure. Complications can range from band problems, blood clots, bowel function changes, bowel perforations, esophageal dilation, food trapping, gallstones, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), hiatal hernia, indigestion (Dyspepsia), food intolerance, nausea, vomiting, pneumonia, port problems and pouch dilation.

Despite the long list of potential side effects, the success rate exceeds number of unsuccessful surgeries. While a comprehensive survey recently conducted by the consumer healthcare survey authority Treato revealed that 85% of the 1,000 respondents did not consider undergoing bariatric surgery, the respondents did note that if they were to opt for weight loss surgery, they would prefer the Lap-Band to other procedures. The Lap-Band’s proven success as well as its minimally invasive and completely reversible surgery is an attractive option for patients, given that other weight loss surgeries, such as sleeve gastrectomy, permanently remove large sections of the stomach and can potentially result in deadly gut leakages, sepsis, and organ failure as a result of a failed surgery. The Lap-Band’s surgical complications are far less dangerous.

Long-Term Impact of Lap-Band

In addition to the success of the surgery, it is important to consider the long-term impact of the Lap-Band. When studying the benefits of Lap-Band, there are two forms of failure: unsuccessful weight loss and complications that implicate removing the band. Placing the Lap-Band is not the end, but the start of the process and a healthy diet accompanied by regular exercise are needed to achieve the goals of the treatment. Almost 70% of the patients don’t manage to lose the excessive weight, end up regaining the weight or need to have the band removed after ten years.

However, when patients follow the medical plan, a Lap-Band surgery can help not only lose weight, but also improve the overall health. The study “Effect of adjustable gastric banding on quality of life and weight loss in the Helping Evaluate Reduction in Obesity (HERO) registry study: 2 year analysis,” published in the journal Current Medical Research & Opinion, demonstrated the effectiveness of the latest generation of adjustable gastric banding systems, using the importance of ≥30% weight loss as a significant predictor of clinical improvement in health-related quality of life, one and two years after the procedure.

One of the key reasons for Lap-Band failure is not the band itself or the surgeon performing the procedure, but the lack of patient compliance with the program, which includes making changes to dietary habits and closely following the indications for the device. When Lap-Band patients effectively follow the program associated with the device, the product has been shown to be both safe and effective for losing weight.

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