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

Are Lap-Bands especially risky for some people?

Allergan intentionally did not study patients with either a family history or personal history of autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, MS or scleroderma, because of concerns about the dangers for those patients. We don’t know if FDA will require a warning for autoimmune patients and those with family members with autoimmune diseases, but they should. If the risk was too high to study Lap-Bands for those patients, it’s too high to sell Lap-Bands to those patients.

Is there any reason to think Lap-Bands are less safe for African American or Hispanic women?

African American women and Hispanic women are especially vulnerable to lupus and several other autoimmune diseases. And, there are other racial and ethnic differences that could influence safety. Is the Lap-Band safe for them? There were only 16 Hispanics and 14 African Americans in Allergan’s study, and even fewer other minorities – so we don’t have all the answers. We think the risks of Lap-Bands are likely to be higher for Hispanic and African American women, because of their risk of autoimmune disease.

Read this information carefully and decide what risks you are willing to take. If you are dangerously obese or extremely unhappy with your weight, a Lap-Band could be a reasonable choice for you. 

Many doctors suggest that you think about the eating restrictions that a Lap-Band requires, and make at least one more serious effort to improve your diet and exercise habits. After you have made that effort, if you are still obese, check out what the latest research shows about Lap-Bands and talk to your doctor about whether a Lap-Band is a good choice for you.


*Bariatric Surgery and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association, Circulation, 2011, 123, available online on March 15, 2011.

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