List of Pros and Cons of Lap Band Surgery

The Lap Band is designed to restrict the amount of food that a person’s stomach is able to hold. The surgery is completed through a laparoscopic approach for most individuals, which reduces the amount of recovery time that is necessary.

It is a silicone band which is adjustable and placed around the top part of the stomach. Then a reservoir is placed under the skin of the abdomen, which allows the band to be periodically adjusted to promote maximum weight loss with a minimum of side effects.

Here are the pros and cons of the Lap Band surgery to think about.

List of the Pros of Having Lap Band Surgery

1. It helps people be able to lose excessive weight quickly.
Successful patients who undergo the Lap Band procedure are able to lose up to 55% of their excess weight within 2 years. After just 3 months, about 20% of the excess fat is gone. After this initial burst of weight loss, the average patient loses another 10% of their overall excess fat every 6 months. Even on the low end of the weight loss spectrum, you can expect to lose about 25% of your excess weight.

2. It can help with other medical issues.
People who have had the Lap Band procedure have found that it can improve the symptoms of other medical issues they may be having. It can help to reduce hypertension, improves diabetes, and can improve sleep apnea as well. 75% of people who use a CPAP machine report reduced snoring, improved energy levels, and may even be able to discontinue their CPAP therapy at night. Some patients see an improvement in their cholesterol levels and joint health. There are also reduced risks for certain cancers.

3. It might be covered by health insurance.
Some health insurance plans do cover bariatric surgery. You’ll want to take a look at your specific policy to see if coverage is available. You may be asked to complete a medically-supervised dietary program before the surgery is authorized by your insurance carrier. Many insurance plans will not permit the surgery unless your BMI is above 35 with health issues, or above 40 without health issues.

4. It offers a fast recovery time.
For most patients, the hospital stay required for the Lap Band procedure is 1 day or less. Most people can return to work within 1-3 weeks after having the procedure, with full recovery taking between 4-6 weeks. The actual procedure will typically require about 45 minutes of time in surgery, where you are given a general anesthetic to sleep while the physician works. After waking up, you’ll be asked to move around as soon as you are able to prevent blood clots from forming after the procedure.

5. It often reduces the symptoms of heartburn.
Patients who have the Lap Band procedure often experience a reduction or elimination of acid reflux symptoms. 90% of patients who have successfully gone through this procedure report that they had a rapid resolution of bothersome symptoms in this area. Underlying hormonal problems can also be corrected at the same rate post-surgery.

6. It encourages future positive eating habits.
Once the Lap Band procedure is complete, your stomach will be able to hold around 1-3 ounces of food in most circumstances. That means you must be eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day to prevent food backups. Although this change can be challenging, it also encourages you to begin new, healthier eating habits that will support a healthier weight in the months and years to come.

List of the Cons of Having Lap Band Surgery

1. It stops working after 2 years.
Most patients see themselves reaching a weight loss plateau after 24 months with the Lap Band system. Although every person is unique, there tends to be a reduction of weight loss experienced. Some patients may even begin to experience weight gain once again.

2. It can be a costly procedure.
The Lap Band procedure carries an average cost of $15,000 for patients who do not have insurance coverage for it. Loans are available to cover this cost, which average $334 per month for individuals who take this route to pay for the procedure. Geographic location, current health, and other factors can influence the cost, however, so make sure you calculate your unique out-of-pocket expenses before proceeding. In the United States, the price range for the surgery is $4,000 to $35,000.

3. It requires a pre-surgery diet regimen which must be followed.
For the two weeks before the surgery, you must consume zero sugar. You must also lower your carbohydrate intake while increasing the amount of vegetables and proteins that you consume. It is also recommended that you drink plenty of fluids. Then 48 hours before the surgery, you must consume clear liquids, broth, and just one protein shake each day.

4. It may cause severe side effects.
You must contact your surgeon who performed the Lap Band procedure if you experience ongoing nausea or vomiting or difficulty swallowing foods. A fever, signs of infection, or no signs of healing are also indications that something may be wrong. Even if these warning signs are not present, your stomach is very sensitive in the first days after the surgery. It takes time to move back to solid food, so fatigue levels tend to be very high.

5. It may require several ongoing adjustments.
The Lap Band may need to be adjusted several times after the procedure to maximize the benefits it is able to provide. Some patients have required 10+ fill adjustments in their first year before being able to see the weight loss benefits they were seeking. By the third year after the surgery, most people only need 2-3 follow-up visits each year to maintain their health.

6. It may change your approach to eating behaviors and relationships.
Food addictions can become a real problem for some people who decide on the Lap Band surgery. You must avoid high calorie, low density foods after this procedure to ensure weight loss can happen. If you are struggling with certain foods before the surgery, this issue must be addressed before receiving the Lap Band. Otherwise, weight regain is a real possibility. Relationships can also change, sometimes for the good and sometimes not so good. Life with the Lap Band, and less weight, is often very different.

These Lap Band surgery pros and cons should be discussed with your doctor before deciding on this procedure. Even if you are severely overweight, this procedure is not right for everyone. Speak with a physician who is familiar with this procedure to determine if the benefits of having it completed outweigh the current risks you may be facing.