In the past two years, we have been hearing about a new type of weight loss surgery called the “lap band”. For years, gastric bypass was the only surgery option that seemed to work. However, gastric bypass also comes with some high risks to infection, heavy scarring, and even death. Considered a highly invasive surgery, people who struggle with obesity have turned to gastric bypass trying to create a healthier life.
Now, it appears the lap band system may be a better alternative, also successful but without as high as risks. The difference between the two surgeries is dramatic. For instance, with gastric bypass, the stomach is stapled off so only a very, small portion is used. This means the individual must eat extraordinarily small meals throughout the day, often no more than an ounce or two. If more food is eaten, nausea follows.
With the lap band system, an inflatable band is placed around the upper stomach, which limits food intake. Officially called BioEnterics’ Inamed, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) first approved use of the unit in 2001. However, it was not widely heard of until just two years ago. While this system of excessive weight loss appears to be a good solution, some doctors believe the FDA’s approval might have been a premature decision.
The lap band system was first used on 100 obese patients, individual who had twice the ideal body weight, as well as individuals who had tried serious means of weight loss through diet and exercise but without success. The results from that study were encouraging, leading to the FDA’s approval, along with years of development. Keep in mind that even the lap band is not for everyone. In other words, if you only have 20, 30, or even 50 pounds to lose, chance are the doctor would not even consider it.
The concern is that approximately 90% of all patients now using the Lap-Band system have experience some degree of problems. For instance, vomiting, nausea, heartburn, abdominal pain, and sometimes, band slippage occurs. In addition to this, close to 25% of patients ended up having the band removed because the side effects were too great or the band did not help with weight loss. Typically, a doctor would consider removal if the band slipped, if the person experienced leakage, or if infection were to develop.
Okay, so is the Lap-Band system safe? Well, when you compare health risks of an obese person to the risks associated with the band, it appears the band is a good possibility. After all, obese people are more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other serious illnesses. Of course, using the Lap-Band is not to be taken lightly. You could be a good candidate for this less invasive surgery but you would need to speak candidly with your doctor to confirm.
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