Overview and Benefits

Laparoscopic gastric banding (LAGB) is one type of weight loss surgery. It is done to reduce the size of the stomach. It can be an option for morbidly obese individuals, especially if they are at risk of serious medical conditions. Examples are high blood pressure and heart disease.

Patients who are candidates for weight loss surgery have a number of options. These include gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. But LAGB is preferred in many cases because it is the least invasive option. It can also be reversed.

LAGB involves the use of a soft silicone ring that divides the stomach into two parts. The upper part is much smaller. The food that the person eats goes into this part. Since it is smaller, the patient will feel full after eating only a small meal. The food then slowly passes through a small opening to reach the bigger part of the stomach. This is where digestion occurs.

LAGB limits the amount of food a person can eat and digest. Thus, they are able to lose weight faster. However, it is important to note that the procedure is not a quick fix for weight problems. It is only done if there is a medical reason for it. After the surgery, it is important for patients to make major lifestyle changes. Aside from eating a well-balanced diet, they must also exercise regularly. This enhances the effects of the surgery.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Obesity is a serious medical condition. It increases the risk of many diseases and disorders. These can either reduce a person’s quality of life or shorten a person’s life. These include heart attack, diabetes, and even cancer.

Patients who are obese are treated with nonsurgical methods first. They are advised to make healthy lifestyle choices. They can also take weight loss medications. Surgery is the last option. It is considered if all else has failed.

As for the expected results, many patients are able to lose between 35 and 45% of their excess weight. This reduces their risk of many diseases and disorders.

The surgery is not for patients with mental illness and those with drug or alcohol abuse problems. It is also not an option for those who do not fully understand its risks and have unrealistic expectations. It cannot also be recommended for patients who are unwilling to make healthy lifestyle changes.

How is the Procedure Performed?

The term laparoscopic means that the procedure is performed without making a large incision. Instead, it uses a laparoscope. This is a type of instrument that looks like a small telescope. It has a small camera and a light source.

During the procedure, the doctor will make up to five small incisions in the abdomen. These incisions will serve as entry points for the laparoscope and other small surgical instruments. The band is then placed around the upper part of the stomach. This separates the upper part from the lower part. The surgery takes less than an hour. Patients are often discharged the same day. Some, however, may need to spend a night in the hospital. This happens if they develop complications. These include unstable blood pressure and difficulty breathing.

If needed, the band can be removed or adjusted. This can be done if the patient suffers from vomiting after meals or is not losing weight fast enough.

LAGB does not require cutting the stomach and rerouting the intestines. As such, it does not disrupt the normal digestive process. When compared to other weight loss surgery, it has fewer postsurgical demands. It also does not put patients at risk of malabsorption. This means that they do not need additional mineral and vitamin supplementation. The risk of hernia and infection is also lower with LAGB.

Possible Risks and Complications

LAGB may be the least risky of all weight loss surgery, but it is not without risks and complications. These include bleeding and infection. Patients may also develop blood clots. These are dangerous if they travel through the bloodstream and get stuck in the lungs. This can lead to death.

Other risks are stroke and heart attack, but these rarely occur. Many patients are able to recover from surgery with no long-term problems. As with other types of weight loss procedures, LAGB can also inflame the stomach lining and cause scarring in the GI tract.

References:

  • Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guideline for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2985-3023. PMID: 24239920 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24239920.

  • Cleveland Clinic: “Surgical Options for Extreme Obesity.”

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