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The Lap Band

Not all weight loss surgeries are created equal. Heck, a single gastric bypass procedure from a few years ago can be vastly different from a gastric bypass surgery done today, thanks to technological improvement and new-found understandings by medical professionals.  Some procedures have a higher success rate than others. Others, have a higher rate of side effects. What’s more, each patient is different in their needs and physical condition, so there isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to major medical procedures.  If you are seriously considering weight loss through surgery, wouldn’t you owe it to yourself to do a little research and find a procedure that will give you a fighting chance towards long term weight loss?  That’s why, over the next few weeks, we are going to cover the procedures, how effective they are statistically, and what type of patient each procedure is ideally for.

The Lap Band

What is it?

The Lap band is a surgical procedure that involves putting the patient under anesthesia, then wrapping a plastic band around the upper middle part of the patient’s stomach. This creates a smaller passage way between the smaller top half of the stomach that forms the food, and the lower half of the stomach that is connected to the rest of the digestive system.  It makes you feel fuller faster, and slows down the amount of food that goes into your body.

Who Qualifies?

People who qualify for this procedure either have a BMI over 40 or a BMI over 35 with a comorbid chronic condition like sleep apnea, type two diabetes ,and coronary heart disease.

How Long is the Procedure?

The surgery itself should take no longer than an hour or two with a few incisions involved. However, once the plastic is wrapped around your stomach, it is intended for it to stay around your stomach forever. They can still be removed if there are complications, but generally, this is considered a long-term procedure.

What is the Success Rate?

The average weight loss rate for people who have undergone the lap band procedure at a estimated baseline of a 5’7 , 250 lbs patient  is 18lbs within the first three months.  In a year, the average expected weight loss would be 35 lbs. That might sound impressive, but compared to the estimated averages of the gastric sleeve, (28 lbs  at 3 months  and  60 lbs at a year) the lap band falls short of expectations.

Are there any Side Effects?

There are a list of side effects that are a byproduct of this procedure, which include:  nausea, vomiting, ulceration, gastritis (irritated stomach tissue), gastric reflux, heartburn, bloating, difficulty swallowing, dehydration, constipation and/or weight regain. And these are only the side effects if there is nothing wrong with the band itself.

The band is a piece of plastic surrounding the stomach, meaning it is susceptible to things like melting into the stomach, slipping out of place, enlargement of the stomach pouch and stomach blockages.

How Much Does a Lap Band Cost?

Without insurance, a lap band is going to cost around $12,000 to $25,000.

The good news is that some insurance companies do finance for this type of procedure. However, they often require either proof of regular attendance at a diet program or a history of previous and serious attempts at weight loss in the past.  Some doctors also offer financing plans for patients to pay off over a prolonged period.


Some doctors are hesitant to use this procedure and some patients are just as hesitant due to the constant number of reoperations for the procedure. Considering that there is not that much of a pay off in weight loss for all that suffering, you would be better off looking for a lap band alternative. If you need to lose more weight for all the suffering you are going through, a good lap band alternative would be gastric bypass or the gastric sleeve. If you are looking for a lap band alternative to lose a little bit of weight temporarily, a gastric balloon would be right up your alley.

In the end, it’s up to you as a patient to talk to your doctor about what treatment is right for you.