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The Dangers of the Lap Band

lap-bandAre you constantly trying to lose weight, but fighting a losing battle? Are you more than 100 pounds over the recommended weight for your height? You may be a candidate for a procedure, called lap band surgery. Lap band surgery is an acronym for the procedure known as Laparoscopic Gastric Banding. It is done using the Laparoscopic Technique and requires making 3 to 5 incisions of about 1” each. The surgeon inserts a small camera attached to a tube into one of the incisions and views the procedure on a monitor. The other incisions are for the medical instruments the surgeon will use and for the placement of the silicone band around the upper portion of the stomach. The band can then be adjusted by a “port” to restrict the flow of food into the stomach. The port is small reservoir connected to the lap band by a tube, and attached to your abdominal wall with sutures and allows the doctor to adjust the saline to tighten or loosen the lap band, as needed. Be aware, this is an expensive surgery and your insurance plan may not cover it. Some plans cover it one time and it must be completed at least twice. Once to insert the band and port; and then later to remove it. It must be removed eventually, either by choice or by necessity. The procedure takes about 30 to 90 minutes for the lap band to be inserted, but if it ruptures, it will need emergency removal, and require several days of hospitalization and a bill in the tens of thousands. Even if no problems are experienced, it will weaken over time, necessitating removal or replacement. Some have lasted as long as 10 years.
Dangers with this surgery include infection of the surgical wounds, and deep abdominal infection because of the manipulation of the bowel and organs, with an added potential of damaging the bowels and releasing contaminated contents into the abdominal cavity. There is a potential for damage to the stomach from the application of or inflation of the band. Some swelling is normal. Too much swelling will cut off all food. Erosion of the band from the stomach might also happen. Until sufficient healing has occurred after surgery, the band might slip from its original location, and necessitate another surgery to reposition it. There are also the usual dangers from anesthesia, and medical allergies, as with all surgeries. Lap band surgery has a low risk of surgical complications compared to other weight reduction procedures. The mortality (death) rate is about 1 in 2000.
This not a solution to your weight problem, but it can help. The danger is the misconception that the lap band will do all the work of weight loss, with no effort on the part of the patient. If nothing is done to change the habit of over eating, then the lap band will undoubtedly be a failure, and little weight loss will be seen.

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