Lap Band Surgery Can Help Decrease Obesity and Save Lives

Gastric lap band surgery, or gastric banding, can greatly improve the health of those who are obese. More than 30 percent of those living in the United States are obese, which means that their Body Mass Index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. When diet and exercise aren’t resulting in weight loss, lap band surgery can be an effective way to safely lose the weight.

Preparation

Candidates that wish to receive the surgery must typically have a BMI of 40 or more, or they must have a BMI higher than 30 and have a condition that results from obesity, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Patients must meet with their surgeon, doctor and a dietician prior to having surgery so that they can understand the risks and what foods they should eat after the operation. The average cost of the surgery as of 2015 is $14,532. Most insurance plans will cover a portion of the surgery.

Procedure

Lap band surgery is typically done laparoscopically through several small incisions in the belly. The doctor will insert a long tube with a camera and surgical tools into these incisions. A band will be placed around the upper part of the stomach, forming a small pouch. This pouch only holds one-half of a cup of food. This results in less food being consumed and a reduction in calories that will lead to weight loss. The surgery takes approximately 30 minutes.

Recovery

After surgery, patients typically experience pain and discomfort that can be lessened with medication. During the first two weeks, only liquids can be consumed. Most people can feel full after drinking just a few teaspoons of water. It is important to stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the day. It is normal to not have regular bowel movements after the surgery as the body adjusts to eating a smaller amount of food. Patients should take care to avoid constipation by staying hydrated and not straining during bowel movements.

After a few weeks, a small amount of food can be consumed. Care should be taken to chew food completely before swallowing. Failure to do so can result in nausea and vomiting. Because there is much less room in the stomach, a smaller amount of food will result in feeling full than prior to the surgery. Patients should take care to stop eating when they are full in order to not stretch the stomach.

Lap band surgery can be a life-saving procedure for those who are severely overweight and are at risk for weight-related complications. Dietary changes and exercise, which will accompany the lap band procedure, will result in healthier patients with a more positive outlook on life.