Lap Band surgery is used to help overweight patients to lose weight. It is the brand name for an FDA approved procedure, involving the use of an adjustable gastric band to restrict intake of food.
Essentially, it constricts the flow of food into the stomach, leaving the subject with a full feeling after eating a fraction of their usual portion size. This reduces the overall appetite, and the amount of food consumed. The results are a gradual loss of weight.
What is a lap band?
A lap band consists of a silicone ring or belt, which is positioned around the top end of the stomach. It has a balloon, referred to as a stoma, which is effectively a small pocket, or pouch, which collects the food as it is ingested. Attached to the ring is a reservoir, also known as a port, which contains saline. This is used to increase or decrease the flow of saline into the ring, which in turn tightens or relaxes the aperture, according to rate of weight loss required.
The procedure is carried out using minimally invasive keyhole surgery. Patients are placed under general anesthetic. Just a few tiny incisions are made into the wall of the abdomen, and the surgeon is guided by images from a camera inserted into one of the incisions.
The band itself is placed in position first, at the top of the stomach, and is stitched into place. The port, or reservoir is then placed deep under the skin into the abdomen wall. This is positioned so that it can be easily topped up with saline, when the band needs to be adjusted.
The band is then adjusted, gently at first, to restrict the flow of food into the main area of the stomach. Several adjustments may be required over the course of a few months, before the optimum size is achieved.
There may be some discomfort after the procedure, but this will subside and medication is administered to control the pain. The whole operation takes approximately 1 hour.
Are there any side effects?
Patients may experience side effects associated with recovery from general anesthetic. This may be nausea, drowsiness, and loss of appetite. It takes a few days of rest to fully recover.
Rarely, there may be complications if the site of the incisions becomes infected or if there are infections in the stomach or lungs. This can slow down the recovery process but is not serious.
In addition, patients are advised not to eat solids for the first two weeks, to allow the stomach to heal properly. This may be followed by a diet of semi solids for the fo llowing two weeks.
A careful nutrition plan, put in place by the surgeon ensures the best possible recovery. Patients can usually leave hospital 48 hours after the procedure.
Lap band surgery is entirely reversible. They can be easily removed, again using key whole surgery. Scarring is minimal, as there are no large incisions.
Who are the best candidates for Lap Band surgery?
Lap Band surgery is recommended for patients who have a BMI in excess of 40. This means that they are generally between 80 – 100 lbs. overweight. It is recommended where alternative attempts at weight loss, such as diet and exercise, have failed.
Those who have a BMI above 30 may also be considered for this procedure, particularly if they also have obesity related health condition, such as diabetes, high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure.
Lap Band surgery is less invasive than the alternative Gastric Bypass surgery, which involves open surgery. It is, therefore, the preferred option for patients who may be suffering underlying health issues that put them at a higher risk of adverse reaction to more invasive surgery.
Anyone suffering from inflammatory disease, or a condition of the intestinal tract or stomach is advised against lap band surgery.
What results can be expected?
Most patients experience a weight loss of approximately 50 – 65% of their excess weight within the first two years of the surgery. It follows that, as weight falls off, patients find it easier to be more active, which in turn helps with the weight loss.
Psychological benefits are a boost to self confidence and self esteem which can lead to a more active, sociable, outgoing lifestyle, which again can help boost weight loss.
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