Lap Band Surgery

Does it play a role in weight loss?

Lap band surgery is the most widely performed weight control procedure in the world today with around 650,000 being performed in 2010 (11,000 in Australia). However, the question remains: Is gastric banding necessary?

The gastric banding procedure involves making a small incision in the abdomen and then placing a band around the stomach, much like a wristwatch. This restricts the amount of food that can fit in the stomach and also increases feelings of fullness.

It is simply another way to control calorie intake. There is also a small tube connected to the band that has an access port in the abdominal wall. This allows the size of the band to be adjusted by passing saline into it.

The Advantage of Lap Band Surgery

The major advantage of lap band surgery over other forms of weight-loss surgery is the fact that it is reversible. It does not involve cutting or stapling the stomach or intestines.

I believe that gastric banding does have a place in weight loss but only as a last resort! People should be willing to explore all possible avenues to lose weight before resigning themselves to the fact that weight-loss surgery is their only option.

Unfortunately though, many doctors are recommending gastric banding as a quick fix even before lifestyle modification options are considered. This means that they are not even giving people the ability to achieve a personal goal on their own. Doing so would not only help them avoid all the potential risks and costs associated with the procedure but it would also give them a great opportunity to build their self esteem and self worth.

It is a similar situation with the use of anti-depressants here in Australia. Anti-depressants are the number one prescribed medication here in Australia and they are often prescribed for people even before addressing the cause(s) of a person's depression. They simply mask the symptoms without addressing the cause!

This is the same approach with lap band surgery. It basically says that the patient has no self discipline or personal responsibility so the responsibility for losing weight should rest with doctors! [NOTE: If you would like more information on natural treatments for depression, please visit: Improve Mental Health]

Admittedly, part of the obesity problem results from the mis-information and confusion surrounding the area of nutrition. The fact is that doctors receive very little training in nutrition and unfortunately conventional nutritional information is incorrect anyway!

As a result, when many people try to lose weight by following standard nutritional recommendations and then fail miserably, they resign themselves to the fact that weight-loss surgery is their only option!

Cost of Lap Band Surgery

A large portion of the cost of lap band surgery is covered by private health insurance in Australia. However, there are some out-of-pocket expenses ('gap') that will need to be paid. This is generally between $3,000 and $5,000 and depends on the following costs:

  • The gastric banding surgeon and assistant surgeon

  • The anaesthetist

  • The hospital where the lap bans surgery takes place

  • Post-operative medication, ie. pain relievers, etc. that need to be purchased from the pharmacy

  • Additional costs may also include:
  • Lap band check-ups (usually done every month until a person's goal weight is achieved and then twice a year)

  • Lap band adjustments

  • Additional consultants fees, ie. dietician and/ or psychologist
  • Some basic private health cover may not cover gastric banding so you will need to check with your fund. Also, waiting periods may apply.

    If you do not have private health insurance then you must become a self-insured patient. A one-year waiting period applies for the health insurance to cover the procedure. Also, gastric banding is not covered by Medicare. However, there are other financing and payment options that you may wish to consider. These include: early release of superannuation, medical expenses tax offset and third party medical finance. You will need to speak with your financial advisor or accountant to find out if this is applicable for you.

    How Lap Band Surgery Works

    Reduces hunger.
    The lap band provides an external restriction on the stomach, which it appears to have an impact on the stomach's production of a hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is a 'hunger' hormone that is produced by the stomach. It increases hunger signals in the brain. Therefore, by blunting the stomach's production of it, hunger may be reduced.

    Encourages satiety.
    This simply means that hunger is satisfied sooner. Since the stretch receptors in the stomach wall tell the brain that you are full, having a smaller pouch means that the stretch receptors get triggered earlier in a meal.

    Slows the passage of food through the gut.
    Since the size of the passage through which food passes is reduced, it takes food much longer to digest. This means there will be a reduced insulin response, which will make losing weight much easier.

    Why Lap Band Surgery is
    Better Than Other Surgical Options

    Sleeve Gastrectomy
    (also known as Gastric Sleeve) This process involves removal of about two thirds of the stomach but unlike gastric banding, it is irreversible. It is often conducted prior to the gastric bypass procedure which may be needed for super obese (BMI of 60+) people.

    Gastric Bypass Procedure
    This procedure has been conducted in the US for many years and involves the removal of part of the stomach near the top so a much smaller pouch can be made. This is then reconnected to the small intestine. This procedure is also irreversible.

    Gastric Plication
    This procedure has similar results to Sleeve Gastrectomy but without requiring removal of part of the stomach. It is quite an invasive procedure requiring far greater expertise by the surgeon. It involves folding the stomach inwards in multiple rows and holding them in place with sutures. This reduces the stomach volume and is a reversible procedure.

    Risks of Lap Band Surgery

    There are many risks that need to be considered when having lap band surgery performed. The risks relate to 3 main areas:

  • The effects of gastric (stomach) restriction

  • The surgery itself

  • Potential problems with the gastric band

  • All of the risks of lap band surgery should be discussed with you surgeon.

    Who Should Avoid Lap Band Surgery

    There are several groups of people who should avoid having lap band surgery. They include people who are/ have:

  • Inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, ie. ulcers, severe oesophagitis, or Chrohns disease

  • Severe heart or lung disease that should avoid surgery in general

  • Portal hypertension

  • Part of gut being abnormal (ie. a narrowed opening in a section)

  • Had a gastric injury (ie. gastric perforation caused during a previous surgery)

  • Cirrhosis of the liver

  • Chronic pancreatitis

  • Pregnant

  • Addicted to alcohol or drugs

  • Under 14 years of age

  • An infection that could contaminate the surgical area

  • Cannot or will not follow the dietary rules associated with the procedure

  • Using long-term, chronic steroid treatment

  • Allergic to the materials

  • Unable to tolerate pain from an implanted device

  • An autoimmune connective tissue disease (or someone in your family has one, ie. systemic lupus or scleroderma)

  • Overview of Lap Band Surgery

    Overall, lap band surgery the definitely the best weight-loss surgery option. However, it should really only be considered as a last resort after every effort has been made to lose weight through lifestyle modification. By simply making a plan to change nutrition and exercise habits and by incorporating supplements into a person's lifestyle, they will definitely be able to lose weight without resorting to weight-loss surgery.

    Plus, when you consider the potential for malnutrition, the risk of the surgical procedure, the financial impact and potential future complications, it definitely makes sense to follow all other weight-loss options first before resorting to surgery.

    On this website I have provided you with all the information you need to lose weight and get in great shape so you don't need to have weight-loss surgery. All you need to do is use it!

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