What is a Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band?

Lainie Petersen

A laparoscopic adjustable gastric band, also known as a lap band, is a device used to combat obesity. In a surgical procedure sometimes called gastric banding, the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band is clamped around the top part of a patient's stomach, both shrinking the stomach's capacity for food as well as slowing the digestive process. As a result, lap band patients consume less food and begin to lose weight. Lap-band surgery is considered to be one of the least invasive types of bariatric surgery, as it is performed through a laparoscopic, or key-hole procedure, and is reversible.

Lap-band surgery is considered one of the least invasive types of bariatric surgery.
Lap-band surgery is considered one of the least invasive types of bariatric surgery.

While there are several different types of weight-loss surgery available to those who suffer from morbid obesity, they all carry with them significant risks and dangers. For example, gastric bypass surgery typically requires a procedure that not only reduces stomach capacity but also reroutes the intestines to reduce the body's ability to absorb nutrients. Due to the complexity of these procedures, serious complications can result, including the development of scar tissue and obstructions in the digestive tract, as well as conditions related to malnutrition. The laparoscopic adjustable gastric band is, as its name suggests, adjustable and can be removed if necessary to accommodate a patient's needs. The device does not interfere with the absorption of nutrition, which can reduce the risk of malnutrition and its attendant side effects of hair loss, skin disorders, and loss of bone mass.

Laparoscopic surgery typically involves a very small incision of only a few inches in length, though a small portal giving a doctor access to the band is created at the surgical site. As a result, surgical complications are minimized in laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery, and recovery time is often much quicker than that involved in a more complex procedure. In situations where patient needs to be able to consume more or less food, the patient's physician can adjust the band by injecting it with a saline solution via the surgically created portal.

As with all types of bariatric surgery, patients must be educated and counseled in appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes in order to facilitate continued safe weight loss. Patients who are unable to make these lifestyle changes may not be good candidates for the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band. In addition, gastric banding is not appropriate for those who are only moderately overweight or who have not attempted conventional dietary changes that might result in weight loss.

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