Is Lap-band Surgery Right for You?

Lap-Band surgery is a reversible outpatient procedure that has helped many obese patients shed their excess weight after years of struggling to slim down. But is Lap-Band surgery right for you? To make a decision, you need to understand what Lap-Band surgery is, and what it can and cannot do for you. You also need to be able to accept the costs and limitations of the surgery.

What is Lap-Band surgery?

Lap-Band surgery is a minimally invasive method of weight-loss surgery. The procedure, which is performed through four or five small incisions in the patient’s abdomen, involves wrapping a silicone band around the upper part of a patient’s stomach to create a small pouch. The band narrows the passage to the rest of the digestive system, causing patients to feel fuller much faster when they are eating.

The tightness of the band can be adjusted during a simple outpatient procedure, or can be removed entirely if the patient desires.

Lap-Band’s typical results

As long as patients stick with the lifestyle guidelines prescribed by their doctor and dietitian, they can expect to lose 1-3 pounds a week during the year after Lap-Band surgery. During this year, patients typically shed half of their excess weight.

Compared to other forms of weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass, Lap-Band surgery leads to gradual weight loss. However, Lap-Band surgery patients are less likely to regain their excess weight compared to patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery, and there is less of a risk of nutritional deficiencies.

Lap-Band surgery will also ease the medical problems associated with obesity. Patients suffering from diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, joint problems, and other obesity-related difficulties typically see these problems fade as they lose weight.

What Lap-Band surgery cannot achieve

Seeing results after Lap-Band surgery is wholly dependent on how well a patient follows their surgeon and dietitian’s advice regarding exercise and diet. Lap-Band surgery cannot make you lose weight if you are not motivated to eat slowly, choose healthy foods, exercise, and avoid excess use of alcohol.

Lap-Band surgery helps patients lose weight by limiting their food intake, reducing their appetite, and slowing their digestion. It is not a miracle cure.

Who is a candidate for Lap-Band surgery?

Typical Lap-Band surgery candidates include adults who are at least 100 pounds overweight and have struggled with their weight for at least five years. To be a candidate, you must also have tried numerous non-surgical methods of weight loss and meet standards for physical and psychological health. In addition, you must be highly motivated and willing to commit to a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.

Before surgery, patients can expect comprehensive physical and psychological evaluations, including an examination of the emotional factors that may contribute to your obesity.

Some medical conditions, including alcoholism, may disqualify a patient from Lap-Band surgery. In addition, if a disease is the root of your obesity, you are not a candidate for Lap-Band.

Cost considerations

Lap-Band is an expensive procedure that costs anywhere from $15,000 to $35,000. The cost is generally covered by insurance carriers, however, so check with your plan administrator.

However, some patients incur extra costs by undergoing body lift surgery a year or two after Lap-Band surgery.

Cosmetic Body Lift Surgery

Some Lap-Band surgery patients find that even a year or two after their surgery, they are left with flaps of excess skin that hang off their newly slimmed frame. Plastic surgeons can make your skin conform to your new body using a procedure called a total body lift.

Body lift surgery is considered cosmetic, so the costs are not covered by insurance. The costs of this procedure vary from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the surgeon and geographic area. However, many patients express that the surgery is priceless because it lets them enjoy and show off their new bodies.


Though Lap-Band has marked advantages over other, more invasive types of weight loss surgery, it is not without its risks and limitations. Lap-Band surgery is not a quick fix or a miracle cure, and it takes long-term dedication for the surgery to help you shed your excess pounds. With proper motivation, though, Lap-Band surgery can help you achieve a new standard of health and slimness.

For more information

UCSD Medical Center in La Jolla, California offers Lap-Band surgery to adults seeking a solution to chronic obesity. UCSD’s Center for the Treatment of Obesity features Dr. Santiago Horgan, an expert surgeon who was one of the first trained in the use of the Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System. To find out if you qualify for Lap-Band surgery, visit

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