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 | Comments ()

What scientific evidence is available that states that Lap-Bands are safe and effective?

Allergan, a company that makes Lap-Bands, provided two studies to the FDA. One is a 3-year study of 178 patients from 18 to 55 years old, who were dangerously obese. The second study has only 149 patients from the new target weight group, who were slightly obese with weight-related health problems. All the patients were 18 to 55 and none had diabetes.They were all studied for one or two years.

Both studies are too short to determine long-term safety or effectiveness.

Why do people have their Lap-Bands removed?

Some people never lose weight from a Lap-Band, so they get the Lap-Band removed after just a few months. Some have terrible side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, or perforation of the gastrointestinal tract, as previously mentioned. Some Lap-Bands slip off or deteriorate, requiring surgery, and the patient may then decide to remove the Lap-Band and not replace it. 

And, some people just get tired of their Lap-Bands because they don’t like such severe limits on what they can eat. They long to have a sandwich or a small bowl of pasta, or to eat a regular meal with their family or friends. As long as you’re losing weight, the restrictions may be tolerable, but may not seem worth it if you stop losing weight or start gaining it back.

Can a Lap-Band prevent a person who is overweight from becoming obese? Can it prevent diabetes or heart disease?

If a person who is overweight can tolerate the restrictions and possible side effects of a Lap-Band for the rest of his or her life, he or she might never become obese. 

Unfortunately, there are no studies to tell us how long the average obese person will keep a Lap-Band, but we know that many patients have their Lap-Bands removed within a few years. It seems logical that a very obese person will be more motivated and more thrilled about losing 60-100 pounds than a slightly obese person will be about losing 30 pounds. 

Diana Zuckerman, PhD

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