What You Need to Know About Lap-Band Surgery

By Diana Zuckerman, PhD National Research Center for Women & Families

Posted on | By Diana Zuckerman, PhD

We all know that obesity can kill, and that many weight-loss strategies don’t work for most people over the long-term. Lap-Bands help many people lose weight in the short-term, and health benefits usually coincide with weight loss. For example, blood pressure decreases in the first years after surgery and tends to increase as the patient gains weight back after that. Patients who keep the weight off can reduce their risk of diabetes or heart disease. Whether it will be effective for you mostly depends on why you are overweight, how motivated you are to lose weight, and other personal factors. Whether it is risky for you is more unpredictable.

People who are very obese may want to take a chance on Lap-Band surgery, because being obese is also risky. Do the risks outweigh the benefits for people who are not dangerously overweight? It depends who you ask. The American Heart Association doesn’t think so. Although they want Americans to reduce heart disease by losing weight, they stated in March 2011 that “bariatric surgery should be reserved for patients who have severe obesity” and only when medical therapy has failed and surgery is a safe option.* The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came to a different conclusion, approving Lap-Bands for people who are slightly obese if they have serious obesity-related illness. For more information on these rulings, click here.

Should you consider a Lap-Band if you are not dangerously overweight? Here’s the information that can help you decide if a Lap-Band is for you, especially if you only want to lose 30-60 pounds.

How does a Lap-Band work?

A Lap-Band around your stomach reduces the room for food so that you feel full after eating very small amounts. If you eat too much, especially too much of certain kinds of food, you will feel nauseous or will vomit. These unpleasant experiences will motivate you to avoid over-eating and will help you lose weight.

Article written by Diana Zuckerman, PhD
National Research Center for Women & Families