Laparoscopic gastric banding is one of the least invasive weight loss surgeries available. Placing a band around your stomach can make you feel full with less food.
Laparoscopic gastric banding (LAP-band) is a bariatric surgery that restricts the amount of food you can consume.
A soft silicone ring is secured to the top of your stomach, reducing it to the size of a 1- to 2-ounce pouch. The band is tightened by inflating small balloons on the device with saline.
When you eat, food will fill the pouch and slowly empty into the rest of your stomach to continue the digestion process.
Updates in technology have made LAP-band surgery one of the least invasive bariatric surgeries.
Traditional LAP-band surgery required a cut to your abdomen.
New LAP-band procedures are laparoscopic. Laparoscopic procedures require small incisions and are performed with a small scope fitted with a camera.
LAP-band surgery is typically recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or greater.
People with a BMI of 30 or more may also be eligible for the procedure if they have an underlying condition related to obesity, such as:
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- sleep apnea
- heart disease
- lung disease
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
LAP-band surgery is an option for those who don’t want to permanently change their gastrointestinal tract. The procedure doesn’t require stapling or cutting.
Insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid, may cover some or all of the cost of LAP-band surgery.
Most insurance providers have a list of requirements that you must meet before they approve coverage.
These usually include:
- at least one letter of recommendation from a doctor or other healthcare professional
- a well-documented medical history demonstrating that you’ve tried other treatments for weight loss
- having one or more underlying conditions related to obesity
According to RealSelf, LAP-band surgery can cost up to $28,000 out of pocket. If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance won’t cover it, you’re responsible for the full cost of the procedure.
Many centers have financial assistance programs, including payment plans and other aid.
You may be asked to lose weight before your surgery. Losing weight beforehand can help reduce your risk of complications during and after surgery.
If you smoke cigarettes or vape nicotine, you’ll be asked to quit at least 6 weeks before surgery. Quitting can reduce your risk of postsurgical complications.
Your clinician will likely recommend outpatient testing 3 to 4 weeks before surgery. This usually includes a blood pressure test, blood work, and an X-ray.
You’ll typically be asked to stop taking any over-the-counter medications known to increase bleeding, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, in the week leading up to surgery.
If you take prescription medications that thin your blood, consult with the clinician before you stop taking them.
The clinician may also ask you to avoid eating or drinking for at least 12 hours before surgery.
A doctor or other healthcare professional will administer general anesthetic before the procedure begins. The procedure takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes to complete.
The surgeon will make small incisions in your upper abdomen and insert a laparoscope and other necessary tools. They’ll place a silicone band around your upper stomach, creating a pouch.
A small port will be installed under the skin of your abdomen. The port and the band will be connected by a small tube.
The tube is used to deliver the saline fluid that tightens the band. Fluid can be added or removed as needed during subsequent appointments.
If the surgeon notices a hiatal hernia during your procedure, they may repair it before closing your incisions.
Recovery time can range from a few days to a few weeks.
You’ll be on an all-liquid diet for the first couple of weeks following surgery. From there, you’ll be introduced to pureed, soft, and solid foods in phases.
If you rush into solid foods, you may experience severe abdominal pain and vomiting. If you take your time, you’ll likely be able to eat solid foods 1 month after surgery.
Your stomach won’t be able to hold as much food as before, so it’s important to eat slowly and stop when you feel full.
Nutrient deficiencies are common with bariatric surgery. The less food you eat, the less likely it is that you’ll get all of the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet.
The clinician may recommend a daily supplement regimen to help prevent deficiencies. They may also recommend routine blood testing to monitor your vitamin, mineral, and protein levels.
Band adjustments are simple and easily reversible, but they do require you to work your way back up to regular food. Keep this in mind and consult with the clinician if you have any questions or concerns.
Does gastric LAP-band surgery help with weight loss?
LAP-band surgery works best for those who don’t have much weight to lose. According to Sutter Health, 30% to 50% of excess weight is lost on average.
How quickly do you see the results or lose weight after gastric LAP-band surgery?
Weight loss is typically slower with LAP-band surgery than with other procedures. You may lose up to 2 pounds per week if you stick to the lifestyle changes required for success.
Is gastric LAP-band surgery painful?
You’ll be under general anesthesia during your LAP-band procedure. You likely won’t feel any pain.
What risks are possible with gastric LAP-band surgery?
You may experience appetite loss following LAP-band surgery. You may also find it difficult to feel comfortably full.
Long-term complications are common. This includes:
- difficulty swallowing
- nausea and vomiting
- esophageal dilation
- the band slipping
- the band wearing away
According to UCLA Health, more than half of gastric bands placed are removed within 7 to 10 years due to not enough weight loss or other complications.
What’s the difference between LAP-band and gastric sleeve surgery?
Unlike gastric sleeve surgery, LAP-band surgery doesn’t require cutting or stapling your stomach.
LAP-band surgery is fully reversible and completely adjustable. Your stomach will likely return to its original shape if the band is removed.
Gastric sleeve surgery permanently changes the size and shape of your stomach.
LAP-band and other bariatric surgeries are a long-term commitment. Consistent medical visits, an active lifestyle, and daily supplements will become a part of your lifelong journey.
LAP-band surgery isn’t for everyone. Consult with a clinician to learn more about the potential benefits and risks.
Catasha Gordon is a sexuality educator from Spencer, Oklahoma. She’s the owner and founder of Expression Over Repression, a company built around sexual expression and knowledge. You can typically find her creating sex education materials or building some kinky hardware in a fresh set of coffin nails. She enjoys catfish (tail on), gardening, eating off her husband’s plate, and Beyoncé. Follow her everywhere.