Lap-Band Surgery: Long-Term Care

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Gastric banding, also known as the Lap-Band procedure, is a life-changing operation that requires a complete lifestyle overhaul, especially when it comes to food. Although no surgery is without risk, there are several benefits to gain from the Lap-Band.

Don't be discouraged if it takes some time to adjust to life with a Lap-Band. Regular physical activity, proactive stress management, and a positive mindset can help you manage any challenges that accompany the procedure. By anticipating the typical (and uncommon) side effects of surgery, you can prepare yourself to embrace the journey ahead.

Benefits of Lap-Band Surgery

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Benefits of Surgery

The benefits of Lap-Band surgery begin as soon as your procedure is complete. Compared to other weight-loss surgeries, the Lap-Band is less invasive. That means that you can expect a faster recovery and a lower risk of unpleasant side effects, (like dumping syndrome) and nutrient deficiencies.

A study looking at 149 patients discovered that within one-year post-surgery, 76% lost 30% of their excess body weight. Weight loss results were sustained throughout the five-year study. Some of the associated health benefits included:

  • Decreases in: Binge eating disorder and depression
  • Improvements in: Triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels

Additionally, no deaths or unexpected issues occurred with the device among the group of participants, suggesting that Lap-Band surgery is generally effective and safe. Amazingly, Lap-Band is even considered safe enough for people who ar pregnant, although only your healthcare provider can help you decide on the best time to schedule your procedure.

The mortality rate from Lap-Band is lower than any other form of bariatric surgery, ranging between 0.02% and 0.1%.

While the risk of death is lower, the Lap-Band's effectiveness is also more variable. This is because Lap-Band relies on patient compliance. It's possible to "cheat the system" by stretching out the stomach pouch through overeating, choosing high-calorie foods and drinks, or eating too frequently.

Nonetheless, long-term results from the Lap-Band include reducing excess body weight by 33% to 60%.

This amount of weight loss can improve a patient's quality of life in many ways such as:

  • Enhanced mobility
  • Greater fertility rates
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Lower rates of diabetes and heart disease
  • Reduced joint pain

If you've tried losing weight on your own and feel like you need assistance to reach your goals, the Lap-Band is an option worth considering. Discuss your options with your healthcare provider to find out if you're a good candidate. Take time to decide whether you're willing to put in the required effort after surgery to enjoy the full long-term benefits of Lap-Band.

Possible Future Surgeries

If you lose a significant amount of weight after the Lap-Band, you may opt for surgery to remove excess skin. When weight loss happens rapidly, the skin is less likely to "bounce back" on its own. Exercise can help, but surgery may be the only way to truly tighten your skin.

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, the best candidates for skin removal surgery:

  • Are able to take several weeks off to recover after surgery
  • Don't have medical conditions which pose additional risks during surgery
  • Have achieved and maintained their goal weight for at least six months
  • Understand that surgical scars are likely

Although skin removal and other body contouring procedures can improve your appearance and help you feel more comfortable, it's important to have realistic expectations. Ask to see examples of similar patients to get a better idea of what to expect from cosmetic procedures.

The Lap-Band is minimally invasive but not without risk or potential complications. In some cases, you may be required to have a revision procedure or removal of the band completely. Improvements in surgical techniques and more surgeon experience with the Lap-Band procedure have led to better outcomes.

The Lap-Band hit peak popularity in 2008, but today many surgeons prefer the sleeve gastrectomy procedure. Don't be afraid to ask your healthcare provider about their rate of success, reoperation, and Lap-Band removal as you shop around for the right surgeon.

Surgeons who perform more than one type of weight-loss surgery might be able to give you an unbiased recommendation on which option is best for you. If the Lap-Band doesn't produce the desired weight loss outcomes, your surgeon may suggest converting to a gastric bypass instead. Inadequate weight loss or weight regain are common causes of this recommendation.

Some studies suggest that the revision rate of gastric banding is between 10.5% to 60%. Because the Lap-Band is reversible, it keeps your options open for additional future surgeries as needed.

Lifestyle Adjustments

If you were accustomed to eating large portions prior to your Lap-Band surgery, your new dietary restrictions can be difficult to get used to. Overeating with the Lap-Band comes with immediate consequences, like nausea, vomiting, potentially more serious stomach tears, or other internal damage.

A new way of eating with the Lap-Band doesn't only refer to the foods you have to avoid. You're also required to plan your intake carefully to ensure that you don't miss out on essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Because you won't be able to eat the same quantity of food, the quality of your choices matters that much more. Without sufficient protein (often through the use of protein shakes) it's possible to become malnourished.

Signs of nutrient deficiencies include:

  • Body aches
  • Dry skin
  • Feeling cold
  • Hair loss
  • Mood changes
  • Tiredness

These symptoms are more common in the first three to six months after surgery, when weight-loss is occurring at a faster rate. To prevent digestive discomfort, you'll need to practice chewing your food really well. You'll also want to drink liquids separately from mealtimes and avoid drinking through a straw (to minimize air intake).

Unlike some other procedures, you'll need to continue to follow-up with your healthcare provider to check on the Lap-Band for the rest of your life. Although your appointments will become less frequent after the first year, you'll need to continue to attend practitioner's visits to address issues with the band. You'll also have to see your healthcare provider to adjust the band's tightness as needed.

A typical follow-up schedule after Lap-Band placement includes:

  • In the first year: Three to eight visits
  • In the second year: One to four visits
  • In the third year and beyond: Twice per year

Lap-Band provides lifelong accountability to help you maintain a healthy weight. Because accountability is such an essential component of any successful weight loss program, the Lap-Band is an effective tool for long-term weight control.

Visiting your healthcare provider bi-annually gives you a reason to stay mindful of your eating habits and progress, even when the initial motivation and excitement wear off.

A Word From Verywell

The ultimate benefits of gastric banding vary widely from person to person and largely depend on the patient's commitment to long-term lifestyle changes. Before undergoing weight-loss surgery, patients must be made aware of what to expect and be ready to accept the necessary work ahead.

Despite what some may assume, no form of weight-loss surgery is a quick-fix, including the Lap-Band. Fortunately, even if you don't get the results you were hoping for, there are other avenues you can explore with your surgeon.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS) Consortium, Flum DR, Belle SH, et al. Perioperative safety in the longitudinal assessment of bariatric surgeryN Engl J Med. 2009;361(5):445-454. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0901836

  4. NIH MedlinePlus. Diet after gastric banding.

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  6. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery. Skin removal after weight loss.

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By Anastasia Climan, RDN, CD-N
Anastasia, RDN, CD-N, is a writer and award-winning healthy lifestyle coach who specializes in transforming complex medical concepts into accessible health content.