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Frequently Asked Questions Regarding LAP-BAND®

What is the LAP-BAND® System?

It’s an adjustable silicone ring with an inflatable inner surface that is inserted surgically, usually laparoscopically, and Lap band devicesplaced—like a belt—around the upper part of the stomach. During surgery, it is connected to an access port below the skin by thin tubing. Later, the port allows the surgeon to adjust the inner surface of the LAP-BAND® System by adding or removing saline to inflate or deflate it. The LAP-BAND® is an inflatable and adjustable gastric band designed to induce weight loss.

How does the LAP-BAND® System work?
The band creates a new small upper stomach pouch and leaves the larger part of the stomach below. This new upper pouch can only hold a small amount of food, so you will feel full sooner. It also controls the outlet between the two parts of the stomach and regulates the flow of the food from the upper to the lower part. The size of the outlet will help control your appetite so you are not hungry between meals. Reduction in food intake often results in weight loss. 

Who can benefit from this procedure?

Individuals who are described as being morbidly obese. Morbid obesity exists when a person weighs at least 100 pounds more than his or her ideal weight. People with morbid obesity are at increased risk for:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Joint problems
  • Heart and vascular diseases

Weight loss has been shown to reduce these risks and increase quality of life.

How is the LAP-BAND® minimally invasive?

Your surgeon will make small incisions on the abdomen to insert long, thin surgical instruments. Then the laparoscope is placed through the incision near the belly button. A laparoscope is a tool with a light and tiny camera that sends a picture to a nearby monitor. While all surgery is serious, laparoscopy can be performed more quickly, and is less invasive and less traumatic than conventional surgery. It also has fewer risks and generally a faster recovery time than open procedures.


What are the benefits of the LAP-BAND® procedure?

  • Less invasive — Performed using laparoscopy, there are very small incisions and there is no cutting or stapling of the stomach.
  • Adjustable — In many cases, there is no follow-up operation necessary to modify the opening.
  • Shorter hospital stay — Patients normally leave the hospital within 23 hours after this procedure, rather than four to eight days following surgery involving a larger abdominal incision.
  • Quicker recovery — Following laparoscopic procedures with no complications, patients generally resume normal activities within a couple weeks.
  • This procedure typically requires a one-day, overnight stay at the hospital.
  • The procedure is adjustable, reversible and removable.

How is the band adjusted?

Most adjustments can be performed in your surgeon’s office. Prior to and after each adjustment, a UGI (radiological examination) may be required. A fine needle is passed through the skin into the reservoir. The adjustment only takes a few minutes. If the reservoir is not easily felt, the adjustment may need to take place via a special x-ray.

Lap band filled

Above: An image of what the LAP-BAND looks like after a "fill."

What are the potential complications associated with the LAP-BAND® procedure?

The total weight loss is often less than is considered ideal by the patient. However, the weight loss achieved by most meets the clinical objective, which is the loss of 50-60 percent of the overweight pounds.

  • Mechanical failure or breakage of band, port and/or tubing, resulting in the need for replacement or removal of the band.
  • Infection of the port.
  • Difficulty in accessing the port, requiring additional radiological examinations.
  • Reaction to the implantable device, slipping and/or erosion of the band.
  • Band erosion may cause a perforation of the stomach/esophagus, resulting in leaks leading to peritonitis (infection of the stomach).

Will my insurance company cover my LAP-BAND® surgery?

Some insurance companies will cover the charges associated with the LAP-BAND® System. The pre-surgical assessments, as well as the post-surgical education and support sessions, are typically an out-of-pocket expense. The Mercy Center for Weight Reduction will work with you and your insurance carrier to obtain the maximum coverage for your procedure. If you do not have insurance coverage, a self-pay option is available. Please contact the Mercy Center for Weight Reduction for more details.

What do I need to know before surgery?

LAP-BAND® System patients should expect gradual but steady weight loss, approximately one to two pounds per week on average, over the first year. If you follow the diet, exercise and behavior modification programs, weigh loss with the LAP-BAND® System should continue over time.

How long will I be in the hospital?
Each patient is different, but usual hospital stay for a LAP-BAND® procedure is overnight (23 hours).  

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