Lap-Band (Adjustable Gastric Banding Surgery)

What is Lap-Band Surgery?

Adjustable gastric banding surgery, more commonly known as Lap-Band surgery, is an adjustable, reversible weight loss treatment. The procedure involves putting a band around the top part of the stomach to limit how much food you can eat at any given time.

Nowadays, Lap-Band surgery is not a recommended procedure. This is because it is less effective than other procedures and has been linked to several long-term complications that require additional surgeries or revisions.

Banner Health’s surgeons rarely perform the Lap-Band procedure, but we provide care for those who experience weight loss success and require band adjustments. We also provide revisional bariatric surgery and other medical weight loss options.

How is Lap-Band Surgery Performed?

This type of bariatric surgery is performed laparoscopically. Laparoscopic gastric banding is a minimally invasive procedure that uses small incisions in the abdomen.

The surgeon uses an adjustable silicone band, with an expandable balloon in the center, around the top part of the stomach to divide it into two parts. The band creates a small stomach pouch, reducing the amount of food allowed and slowing the process by which food is released into the small intestine.

A tube from the band is attached to a port under your skin. Your surgeon inserts a needle into the port to inject a saline solution so the band can be tightened or loosened. These adjustments take place during regular visits with your bariatric team.

Who is a Candidate for Lap-Band Surgery?

Lap-Band is used to treat severe obesity. It is recommended for those unable to lose weight through non-surgical means such as diet and exercise. It is recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher or a BMI of at least 35 and at least one obesity-related illness or health problem, such as type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.

Follow the BMI calculator to find out if you’re a healthy weight.

However, Lap-Band leads to less weight loss than other bariatric procedures and is associated with long-term complications. It also requires several frequent office visits for adjustments.

Other bariatric surgery procedures, like sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) and gastric bypass surgery (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass), are more widely performed.

What are the Advantages?

The main advantage of Lap-Band is that it is adjustable and reversible and can be removed if necessary. There is no cutting or stapling of the stomach required.

This procedure can help patients lose 15% to 20% of total weight  within two years after the surgery. However, weight gain is much more common in gastric banding patients than in those who undergo gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgery.

What are the Risks?

The number of people choosing Lap-Band has declined in recent years. Due to long-term complications and other more successful weight loss procedures, Banner Health surgeons rarely perform Lap-Band surgery.

Some common complications include:

  • Lap-Band slippage. The band can slip out of place if it isn’t inserted correctly. This may cause severe pain, nausea, GI bleeding, stomach perforation, and other serious complications. A slipped band always requires surgical revision or removal of the band.
  • Band erosion or port infection. Although rare, the band can erode (break down) in the stomach and the port can become infected, break, leak or become difficult to access. These require surgical removal and corrective surgery.
  • Difficulty swallowing. Sometimes patients may react to the smaller stomach pouch or develop an intolerance to certain foods. This can lead to difficulty swallowing, nausea and vomiting.
  • Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Some patients may develop heartburn or esophagitis after surgery.
  • Other complications.  As with other weight loss surgeries, the following complications may occur: gallstones and gallbladder disease, blood clots and infections.

What Happens After Lap-Band Surgery?

Shortly after surgery, you will slowly begin reintroducing foods into your diet. You will start on a clear liquid diet, gradually progressing to a soft food diet and a regular diet in the weeks ahead. When you return to solid foods, you’ll want to limit your portions to fit your new stomach pouch. Overeating can cause nausea and vomiting.

You will work with your health care team to determine what is best to eat.

As you lose weight, your Lap-Band may need to be tightened in order for you to sustain weight loss. You’ll also have regular blood tests to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients on your new diet. You may have nutritional counseling to help you learn new ways of eating.

Complications may develop down the road and may require adjustments or revisional surgery. These are more complicated in people with a Lap-Band. Our bariatric team is skilled at performing procedures to reverse complications associated with Lap-Band surgery.

Our Expert Bariatric Team

Bariatric surgery needs a multidisciplinary approach to obesity care. The Banner Health weight loss team offers compassionate, comprehensive and advanced care. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the safest, most successful bariatric patient experience possible.

Surgery is only one part of that care. Equally important is the education, lifelong follow up and support our team provides. Our team partners with you to achieve your weight loss goals and improve your quality of life.

Your team will involve a surgeon or surgeons, obesity medicine doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians, behavioral health specialists, support staff, medical assistants and some specialists in cardiology, pulmonology and sleep medicine. We are all working together with you on your care.

Take the Next Step: Am I a Candidate? 

Bariatric Center of Excellence

Banner Health is accredited by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery for its high standards of care in weight loss surgery.