Information About the Lap Band Procedure

Basics

The lap band procedure is a weight loss surgery designed to help obese people drop pounds and hopefully improve their overall health profile. Most bariatric surgeries are limited to those who are at least 100 pounds overweight, though a growing number of doctors will perform the lap band procedure on people about 70 pounds overweight. Keep in mind a lap band is not a way to lose just a little weight and no qualified doctor would agree to insert one in someone who has only a few pounds to lose. Any bariatric surgery does carry a small risk of death due to anesthesia.

How it Works

The doctor inserts an adjustable gastric band around the top part of a patient’s stomach during the lap band procedure. Usually the surgery can be done using special instruments in what is called a laparoscopic procedure. In this type of procedure, the surgeon make a few small keyhole-sized incisions in the patient’s abdomen and inserts the lap band through telescope-like medical devices. Using such methods can greatly reduce a patient’s recovery time and help avoid some of the risks of open abdominal operations, like hernias. Band slippage and possible erosion of the stomach due to the lap band are the most common risks after surgery, and are considered relatively rare especially if dietary guidelines are followed.

Recovery Time

Most people can return to work and many of their normal activities within a week after their lap band procedure. However, excessive physical activity is not advisable in the weeks following surgery. Those on pain medication should exercise special caution when driving.

Diet Specifics

The lap band procedure creates a small pouch at the top of the patient’s stomach, and thus greatly restricts what one can eat. Ideally this will help promote weight loss. Following a special diet, especially in the first couple of months following surgery, is crucial to prevent possible complications. Full lap band diet details are outlined in the first article in this series.

Financial Details

Many insurance companies will cover a lap band procedure, but usually require the patient prove they tried many other means to lose weight. The person also usually must pass a psychological evaluation and may need to have existing co-morbidities like high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea. Those who do not have such insurance can consider paying with cash or finding credit cards and special bariatric surgery loans. Self-pay costs range from $5,000 to $10,000 in other countries like Mexico or about $17,500 in the United States.

References

"Lap Band Surgery." https://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/lapband/

This post is part of the series: All About the Lap Band

This is a two-article series detailing lap band (adjustable gastric banding) as a weight loss surgery.
  1. Lap Band Diet FAQ
  2. Lap Band Procedure FAQ