If you’re severely overweight or obese, losing weight might seem like a never-ending uphill climb. That’s why many people in your shoes have opted for weight loss intervention, like lap band surgery.
What Is a Lap Band?
A lap band (also called a gastric band) is a medical, ring-shaped device that a surgeon places around the top portion of your stomach. The device is then constricted, which creates a small stomach pouch.
After the band is in place, your stomach should only be able to hold a very small amount of food – about an ounce, according to WebMD. There will be about an inch-wide opening leading to the remainder of your stomach.
How is the Gastric Band Adjusted?
Unlike other weight loss surgeries, the lap band or gastric band is totally adjustable and completely reversible.
To adjust the band, your surgeon will inject a sterile saline solution through your skin into a port connected to the band. The port channels the solution into the band, which is inflatable.
When your surgeon adds more solution, the band tightens and constricts your stomach pouch more. When your surgeon removes the solution, the band relaxes.
This gives your surgeon the ability to adjust the band to your needs for weight loss.
What Happens During Lap Band Surgery?
Usually, lap band surgery is done laparoscopically. This means your surgeon won’t make a long cut to open your abdomen.
Instead, very small incisions are made. Tools with long arms (including a camera that transmits a video feed – so your surgeon can see inside your abdomen) are inserted to perform the surgery.
These other types of procedures actually remove a portion of your stomach and alter your small intestinal tract permanently.
Lap band surgery does not permanently alter your stomach, nor does it involve your small intestine. The lap band can be removed if needed, so the surgery is reversible.
How Gastric Banding Can Help You Lose Weight
A stomach band essentially separates your stomach into two connected compartments. The one that’s much smaller is where your food will initially go after you eat. Eventually, your food will pass through the small opening into the remainder of your stomach, where it will be digested normally.
The small size of the stomach pouch created by the lap band will help you to feel full much faster. In turn, this will help you eat fewer calories, be more mindful of what you consume, and ultimately help you lose weight.
How to Get the Best Results from a Lap Band
A lap band isn’t a blanket solution for weight loss. Having the surgery will not automatically solve your weight issues.
Instead, you have to be prepared to make major life changes regarding your eating habits, food choices, and lifestyle. If you don’t follow through with these changes, the lap band won’t work, and you’ll suffer from side effects.
For example, if you eat too much after lap band surgery, you may experience discomfort, vomiting, or acid reflux.
It’s also important to note that your stomach band will gradually widen over time, which will allow you to eat more food. Of course, you’ll have to use portion control and take care not to overeat, as this can cause weight gain.
According to the Columbia University Department of Surgery, most people who have undergone this surgery lost about 40-60% of their excess weight. Of course, only the people who complied with their new diet and lifestyle and were motivated to keep it up saw the best results.
3 Possible Complications from Lap Band Surgery
Like with any surgery, lap band surgery comes with possible complications and risks. These are the most common ones:
1. Surgical Complications
Surgical complications that are most common after gastric banding include bleeding, problems with the device (like if it isn’t positioned correctly), and blood clots in the legs.
2. Failure to Lose Weight
With a lap band, some people fail to lose any weight at all. However, this is due to a wide variety of factors.
For example, some people do not comply with diet and lifestyle changes. Others might have bands that are not positioned correctly, or have surgical complications due to the band.
3. Nausea and Vomiting
By far, the most common complications after getting a gastric band include nausea and vomiting. Some people even may develop a food intolerance after the surgery, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Is Lap Band Surgery Right for You?
Getting a lap band can help you lose weight, but only if you think of it as a tool, not a solution.
To determine if the surgery is right for you, speak with your doctor and only move forward after weighing all your options carefully.