The Lap-Band Gastric System is a weight loss method approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 for the treatment of adult patients suffering from obesity. It is a surgical method, which is usually only an option when patients are unable to lose weight with other medically supervised programs. The Lap-Band is one of the two FDA-approved gastric band weight loss devices and the most recent, popular gastric banding systems available in the United States. It has been proven time and time again in clinical trials to be both safe and effective in helping obese patients lose weight, with its safe, simple surgical procedure being its strongest feature.

What Is the Lap-Band Gastric System?

The Lap-Band gastric system includes a silicone band, tubing and an access port. It works by limiting the amount of space available in the stomach for food intake. The inflatable silicone band is placed around the upper part of the stomach and connected to the access port through a thin tube. The band is filled with a saline solution and it results in a contraction of the stomach, reducing food and caloric intake. It does not provoke weight loss automatically, but the patients will feel full faster and with smaller amounts of food.

How Is The Lap-Band Placed?

The Lap-Band system can be placed through laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery or adjustable gastric banding open surgery. The difference in the type of surgical procedures is that while open surgery is more invasive, the laparoscopic approach consists of making five to six small incisions in the abdomen to introduce the surgical instruments and a small camera called a laparoscope. The surgeon inserts the band into the abdomen deflated and places it around the stomach, forming a ring and leaving the tube and the access port under the skin. The surgery is performed with the patient under anesthesia.

For Whom Is The Lap-Band Indicated?

The decision to undergo weight loss surgery should be discussed with a physician in order to evaluate if it is the best option. Patients need to be older than 18 years old and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 40 or higher than 30 and also suffer from an obesity-related comorbidity, such as diabetes, type 2 diabetes or heart disease. In addition, it is recommended particularly for people who failed previous attempts to lose weight with other methods, but that are prepared to make life style alterations. Patients who suffer from a disease that may have caused the excess weight or who have a drinking problem are not candidates for the surgery. Pregnant women are also not recommended, but studies revealed that the procedure is safe for obese women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant in the future.

What To Expect After The Lap-Band Surgery?

The surgery will result in a contraction and reduction of the stomach’s size, and patients will be able to return home one or two days after the procedure and to work about two weeks later. To assure the success of the surgery, patients need to commit to a healthy diet and regular exercise. After the surgery, patients start a liquid diet and will gradually transition to solids, and studies demonstrate that the Lap-Band is able to help 80% of patients reduce at least 30% of excess weight and maintain it for at least a year. The band is placed deflated and after the recovery the physician will fill it with saline solution through the access port using a needle, a process that will be repeated regularly to fit the patients’ needs.

What Are The Alternatives To The Lap-Band?

The Lap-Band has been proven helpful in improving the quality of life of obese patients, as well as in helping reduce type 2 diabetes through weight loss. However, there are other surgical options available. Regarding gastric bands, there is also the Realize Gastric Band, which was approved by the FDA in 2007 and is similar to the Lap-Band. Other types of weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, include gastric bypass or Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch (BPD/DS). In addition, there are non-surgical options, such as behavioral alterations, pre-packed meals, pharmacotherapy and endoscopic intragastric balloon.

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