Lap Band Surgery – Know The Facts, Costs And Travel Options
If you choose to have weight loss surgery, it’s clearly an important life-changing medical decision and a significant financial decision too. There have been significant changes in the lap band type of surgeries. One difference is in the early days of the surgeries between the LAP BAND system and the Swedish adjustable lap band is that the SAGB didn’t have a self-closing mechanism and had to be closed with sutures. If the bariatric or lap band surgeon gives you approval for lap band surgery after an extensive initial consultation, you’ll then be required to have pre-op exams and lab tests before you can be medically cleared for surgery.
If any candidate for surgery has a dependency on alcohol or drugs, they won’t be eligible for adjustable band surgery. Mentally disabled or emotionally unstable people also can’t be considered. In general, gastric banding, including the Lap Band procedure and weight loss system can be indicated for people for whom their Body Mass Index is above 40, or for those who are 100 pounds (45 kg) or more over their estimated ideal weight according to the still-used-today 1983 Metropolitan Life Insurance Tables. Or for those with a BMI between 30 and 40 with co-morbidities, which may improve with weight loss. Co-morbidity examples include: high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and arthritis.
The failure of dietary treatment or weight-loss drug therapy for a year or more can make someone eligible for the adjustable gastric band procedure. The lap band surgery is usually not performed if the patient has an untreated glandular disease such as hypothyroidism, where other measures may still work.
If after surgery, the adjustable gastric band patient is considering pregnancy, ideally he or she should be in the best nutritional condition prior to the conception. Deflation of the band may be required prior to the planned conception. There are many port designs and they may be placed in a variety of positions based on the preference of the weight loss surgeon. The band is inflated and adjusted by use of a small access port placed just under the skin subcutaneously. Radiopaque isotonic solution or saline is then introduced into the band via the placed port.
The surgeon uses a special needle to avoid damage to the sensitive port membrane. And calcium supplements and Vitamin B12 injections are not usually ordered following gastric banding as they are with Roux-en–Y gastric bypass surgery and other weight loss surgeries. When fluid is ingested into the stomach the lap band expands, placing pressure around the outside of the stomach. This then decreases the size of the passage in the stomach and restricts the movement of any food.
The initial weight loss in gastric banding is slower than with the permanent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery but statistics indicate that over a five year period the weight loss outcome is very similar. The weight loss surgery patient may be prescribed a liquid only diet, followed by soft foods and then solid foods for a prescribed length of time.
Each surgeon and manufacturer will vary in their post-surgery instructions. To allow time for the stomach to heal, many doctors make the first adjustment between six to eight weeks after surgery. After the surgery, adjustments, which are also called ‘fills’, may be performed using a fluoroscope so the radiologist can assess the placement of the band, the port and the tubing, which runs between the port and the band. Then after that the ‘fills’ are performed only as needed.
For moms-to-be, the lap band may remain deflated during pregnancy and once breast feeding or bottle-feeding is completed the band may gradually be re-inflated to help with postpartum weight loss if it’s necessary.
Regarding complications, some of the mechanical malfunctions that can happen after surgery include port leakage, cracking of the kink-resistant tubing or disruption of the tubing connection from the port to the band, port site pain and port displacement. On occasion, the narrow passage into the lower part of the stomach can become blocked by a large portion of food that is not chewed.
And some of the adjustable gastric band after-surgery digestive complications include nausea, vomiting, gastro-esophageal reflux, stoma obstruction, constipation, dysphagia, diarrhea, and abnormal stools. Erosion can occur. This is where the band may wear a small area on the outside of the stomach which can lead to the migration of the band to the inside of the stomach.
The amount you pay for your surgery will vary. There isn’t an established cost or price for lap band surgery. Your surgery may or may not be covered under your current health insurance plan. If not, travel to other countries for weight loss surgery has become more popular. Travel to Mexico is just one way to get a low cost lap band surgery. There are many countries offering cheap or low cost weight loss surgery or lap band surgery. Compare costs of surgery along with all travel expenses.
Make sure if you’re traveling away from home for surgery though, to consider the travel time and related travel expenses for both the surgery and the follow-up appointments. Do not underestimate the number of follow-up appointments you might need and find out if you can do those in the US or your country of residence. Many factors can affect the total cost of lap band surgery, including the gastric surgeon you choose, the country you choose to have the surgery performed in and what fees are included or not included in the total price.