I see an awful lots of posts (and an awful lot of criticism) about gastric bands and gastric band surgery. Are they as successful as other types of bariatric surgery? Are they offered by most state-funded practitioners and private practices? Are many of them being removed? Are they considered ‘old hat’?
I can’t speak from personal experience since I am a bypass patient but I can speak from contact with countless patients from both sides of the divide. I hear from worried ‘banders’ and successful ones – pretty much the same for other procedures like bypass and sleeve.
There is no perfect/ideal procedure for everyone and the best surgeons are the ones who match their patient with the op that is most likely to succeed for them. So let’s take a look at what a ‘bander’ has to say about this – and debunk some of the myths. Do you agree?
Five Common LAP-BAND Myths Debunked
A lot of lap-band rumours have been swirling around, but many of them are just that: rumours. There’s a good chance that a lot of these rumours have been started by surgeons who prefer to perform gastric sleeve or gastric bypass operations. Here are five common lap-band myths, where they came from, and what the truth really is.
1. The LAP-BAND Doesn’t Work
It is true that you are unlikely to lose as much weight in the first year after getting your LAP-BAND as you are in the first year after getting gastric bypass or the gastric sleeve. It also doesn’t interfere with nutrient absorption the way the gastric bypass does.
However, long-term success rates are far more important, and the data on the lap-band is positive. In one study, patients lost an average of 70% of excess weight by 2 years post-op (Michaelson et al, 2013). After 5 years, another study found an average of (Ponce et al, 2014). And, after a long 15 years post-op, a different study noted an average excess weight loss of 47.1% (O’Brien et al, 2013).
The lap-band works for patients who follow the prescribed diet – just like the sleeve, bypass, and other WLS options work if you eat right.
2. All Bands Are Being Removed
This simply isn’t true. The band is intended to be a permanent weight control solution, and is removed only in cases where complications occur. This can usually be prevented with proper placement and adjustment, and high patient compliance. In one study, less than one out of five bands were removed in an average follow-up of 3 years (Yildiz et al, 2012). Long-term satisfaction and weight loss are very possible with the lap-band.
3. Nobody Is Putting in Bands Anymore
It’s true that the surgeon closest to you may not be offering lap-bands, and you may be seeing a lot more ads for the sleeve. Still, Apollo Health reports that 245 U.S. surgeons offered LAP-BANDS last year, and 40,000 patients opted for an adjustable gastric band.
If you are considering the LAP-BAND, it’s important to make sure you know where you can get it adjusted. You’ll need the initial fill a few weeks after you get your band inserted, and you may need to get it adjusted a few times over the next several weeks or months.
You should also be sure you know where you would go in an emergency situation when you needed an de-fill. This is good practice whether you are at home or planning a vacation.
4. The Sleeve Is the Best Procedure
The “best” procedure is the one that’s right for you. That may be a different procedure than the one that’s best for someone else. The sleeve may be best for rapid weight loss, but an overwhelming majority of potential weight loss surgery patients favour the band. In fact, a study this year found that 13 times as many patients had a favourable opinion towards the band compared to the bypass (Obesity Today).
These are some of the reasons why you might prefer the gastric band over other procedures.
- You have a lower BMI.
- You may want to become pregnant in the future.
- You do not like the idea of having your digestive tract rearranged or your stomach permanently removed.
- You do not want a high risk of nutritional deficiencies and the resulting health problems, such as anaemia and osteoporosis.
5. The LAP-BAND Will Not Fix My Diabetes
It is true that the lap-band does not have the same reputation for resolving diabetes as the gastric bypass. It also does not work as quickly, since it does not affect hormones as much. Still, it is considered to be effective.
Patients who lose weight with the gastric band are likely to see improvements in diabetes, including lower blood sugar levels. They are often able to reduce their doses or stop using their diabetes medication. One study of gastric band patients found a 73% decrease in diabetes at the 2-year post-op mark, and a significant decrease in diabetes medications after 3 years, with one-third of patients going off medications. Almost one-third of patients achieved long-term resolution by 5 years post-op (Courcolas et al, 2015).
The Conclusion: Do Your Homework
Weight loss surgery is a big deal. It’s not just a question of whether to get it, but of which one to get. When you’re making a decision that will affect the rest of your life, it’s best to do your homework. Don’t just depend on what you may read on the internet or hear from people who may not know all the facts. Check them out, and make the decision that’s best for you. It may be the lap-band, and it may not.
Yildiz BD, et al. 2012. Adv Clin Ex Med. Long-term efficacy of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding–retrospective analysis.
O’Brien et al. “Long-Term Outcomes After Bariatric Surgery: Fifteen Year Follow-Up of Adjustable Gastric Banding and a Systematic Review of the Bariatric Surgical Literature.” January, 2013.
Ponce, et al. “Efficacy and Safety of the Adjustable Gastric Band – Pooled Interim Analysis of the Apex and HERO studies at 48 weeks.” Current Medical Research and Opinion, 2014.
Michelson et al. “LAP-BAND for Lower-BMI: 2-Year Results from the Multicenter Pivotal Study.” Obesity Journal, 2013.
Data on File, Apollo Endosurgery, Inc. Austin, TX.
Tan, Anna. Obesity News Today, July 7, 2015. Survey Reveals That While Weight Loss Surgery Still Not Common, Gastric Bands Are Most Favored Option.
Courcoulas et al. “Three-Year Outcomes of Bariatric Surgery vs Lifestyle Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Treatment.” JAMA, 2015.