Lap-Band Surgery: Is it as Good as Everyone Thinks?

June 18, 2011 By: afeldman 8 Comments

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery, or lap-band for short, was FDA approved in February to be used  by a wider range of patients. Before, patients had to have a BMI of 40 to have this procedure done and now, it can be as low as 30. BMI is a formula that calculates an individuals weight to height ratio and is expressed as Weight (kilograms)/ Height (cm)2. For someone that is 5 ’6 to have a bmi of 30, their weight would be 186 pounds.

When a patient gets the lap-band surgery, there is an inflatable silicone band placed around the upper stomach. The concept is that this band lessens the stomach stretching that normally takes place when food is eaten. With this stretching of the stomach minimized the feeling of being full takes place more quickly after eating smaller meals. The FDA only approved this surgery in 2000 so it is still relatively new.

While most studies have been favorable of weight loss with the lap-band, there is a new study that has been released showing some potential detriments. The study, which was conducted by a hospital group in Belgium, followed up with patients who had the surgery done between 1994 and 1997. Tests were done in 2009 that assessed surgical complications, post-surgery weight loss, overall satisfaction, quality of life and side effects. While surveys showed a 60% satisfaction rate, there are some other numbers that are troubling. It was said that about 40% of subjects experienced major complications from the surgery and an additional 22% experienced minor complications. That means that 2 out of every 3 subjects had surgical complications. At some point after the lap banding, almost half of the subjects had to have the band removed and 17% of the subjects ditched their lap-band to get gastric bypass. This data does not show us a positive outlook for weight loss surgery.

I realize that this is just one study. However with gastric banding recently getting the green light to be used on more patients, I think we will see more studies like this one popping up that show negative statistics. Even though it is true that many studies have good things to say about weight loss surgery, the problem is that many of the people conducting these studies are surgical groups or they are funded by surgical groups. Why would a surgical professional want to conduct a study that will go against the product they are trying to sell? When looking at studies, it is important to find unbiased sources. A study can sometimes be manipulated to express the beliefs that the experimenter has about what they are studying.

Another important thing to consider when looking at weight loss surgery is the fact that most people who get it probably don’t need it. The recent approval by the FDA states that a person with a BMI of 30 can undergo this surgery. From my experience, clients with a bmi of 30 are still fully functional which means that an exercise program supplemented by healthy eating and lifestyle should be the focus, not surgery. My fear is that next, they will lower that number even more which is sad because I do not think that weight loss surgery is necessary except for in extreme circumstances. These circumstances have to do with medical issues that prevent weight loss even with hard work.

The weight loss trend of late seems to be a flocking to these surgeries. False advertising leads to the belief that surgery is a fast and painless fix but that is not true. Even with a surgery, eating and nutrition habits have to change so why not see what happens by changing them without surgery? At Shane Diet Resorts weight loss camp for adults, we can give you a jump on a healthy lifestyle and at the same time, enjoying a fitness retreat.  We pride ourselves on working with individuals, such as yourself, to overcome your weight boundaries. We must remember that a little effort and discipline can go a long way. If people get lap-band surgery without correcting unhealthy eating and activity habits, the lap band can stretch out and stop doing what it is supposed to. When that happens, welcome to post surgery weight-loss relapse.

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