Adjustable Gastric Band (Lap Band)

Adjustable Gastric Banding is a procedure where a small band is placed around the top of the stomach. (Gastric means “of the stomach”.) Although this procedure is often casually referred to as LAP-BAND, the name Lap-Band is the specific brand name for Allergan’s band. Allergan’s Lap-Band System received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2001. Johnson & Johnson also makes a band called The REALIZE Band, which was approved by the FDA in 2007.

lap-bandingHow it Works
An adjustable gastric band works by restricting the amount of food you can eat. A band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch – about the size of a golf ball. Patients feel more full from eating a smaller amount of food, and generally feel less hungry. The band does not interfere with the digestive process.

gastric bandingThe Procedure
An adjustable gastric band is placed laparoscopically. Laparoscopic surgery is also known as Minimally Invasive Surgery. Between one and five incisions are made in the belly. These incisions are smaller than regular incisions – usually less than 1.5cm, and sometimes as small as 3mm. No cutting or stapling is done inside the body during the gastric banding procedure.

lapbandAfter Surgery
After the adjustable gastric band is placed, patients often stay in the hospital or surgery center for less than 24 hours, although sometimes patients stay overnight. Patients return to the doctors’ office approximately 10 times in the first year after surgery, to get their band adjusted. Band adjustments are performed by adding saline solution to the band. This tightens the band around the stomach, and makes the patient feel more “full”. The saline is injected into a port which is placed just under the skin during the initial operation. Minimal pain is felt during a band adjustment – just a small needle stick.

stomach bandWeight Loss Trends
Patients with an adjustable gastric band often do not lose as much weight initially as patients who have a gastric bypass. Because the band is adjusted over time, this is a procedure where weight loss is generally more gradual. Because of the nature of the band being adjustable, a patient who relapses into gaining weight can often be helped back on course with a band adjustment which can again decrease their feelings of hunger and the amount of food needed to feel full.

stomach-bandingWho Qualifies
The adjustable gastric band is approved for patients with BMI of as low as 30 if they have a comorbidity such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, or high cholesterol. Without a comorbidity, the band is approved for patients with a BMI of 40 or higher.

The cost of the adjustable gastric band procedure can vary quite a bit from practice to practice. To best compare costs, make sure to find out exactly what the price is covering. Some practices only include the operation in their price, while some will give you a package price that includes follow up care, fills (adjustments of your band), and support groups. And as with anything, the ‘cheapest’ surgery does not make it the best choice.

adjustable gastric bandingPotential Complications
All surgeries have risk of complications. Potential complication of an adjustable gastric band include nausea/vomiting, band erosion, band slippage and heartburn or acid reflux. A good surgeon will discuss all potential complications with you.

Find an expert bariatric surgeon.

Other weight loss surgery options:

  • Gastric Bypass
  • Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy