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Obesity has reached epidemic levels in the United States, with very little long-term success rates for dieting. People have begun to turn to alternate weight loss methods, such as gastric bypass surgery. Weight loss surgery has been around for a long time but has been associated to high risk of serious complications. The improved technique and ability to perform weight loss surgery safer and in a less invasive manner have dramatically increased the popularity of the procedures.

How is the procedure performed?

To qualify for weight loss surgery a patient must be considered morbidly obese, having at least 100 pounds to lose. Since gastric bypass surgery is still a last resort for patients that qualify, an alternative called lap-band weight loss surgery is available for people who do not want to undergo the gastric bypass surgery.

The lap-band weight loss surgery was FDA approved in 2001 for use in adults. It is an inflatable belt used to shrink the size of the stomach. The lap-band weight loss surgery is a reversible procedure that is less invasive when compared to other surgical methods.

Lap-band weight loss surgery involves placing a saline-filled lap-band around the upper part of the stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch, that reduces the stomach from the size of a football to a golf ball. There are no incisions made into the stomach or intestines with the lap-band weight loss surgery, but the reduction in stomach capacity allows less food and feelings of fullness just like gastric bypass surgery. Doctors can also adjust the size of the lap-band, so while it can take lap-band weight loss surgery patients longer to lose weight than gastric bypass surgery patients, it will not include the cutting of major organs.

What risks am I facing?

In 2004 alone, there were roughly 140,000 weight loss procedures performed in the U.S. Although the majority of these procedures are still gastric bypass procedures, more patients are expected to consider the lap-band weight loss surgery because of its lower mortality rate. As with any weight loss surgery, there are still a lot of risks involved, and patients must be physically and psychologically ready to make major lifestyle changes to ensure their health and wellness.

The lap-band weight loss surgery does not cause the malabsorption of nutrients, which is a common effect after gastric bypass surgery, and studies have indicated the lap-band is safe in pregnant women since there has been some debate over the safety of the fetus for women after undergoing a gastric bypass surgery.

However it is extremely important for patients to realize lap-band weight loss surgery is not a cure all, merely a way to achieve weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. There are many secondary health problems suffered because of obesity and health costs associated with the overweight and obese are over $117 billion a year, according to the National Institutes of Health. In order to undergo a successful lap-band weight loss surgery transformation, the individual must be willing to make a commitment to the life-altering change and to properly care for him/herself or else they are not ready for this procedure.


Doctors performing Lap-Band

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