My LAP-BAND Isn’t Working for Me. Now What?

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In the early 2000s, a common solution to helping people eat less emerged: the LAP-BAND®. A silicone, ring-like structure, the band could be adjusted by being inflated or deflated to reduce the amount of food a person feels like eating. The LAP-BAND could be removed if necessary and it wouldn’t permanently change someone’s anatomy. What’s not to love?

“We don’t offer it anymore,” Michel Murr, MD, FACS, bariatric surgeon at the AdventHealth Bariatric and Metabolic Institute Tampa, says of the LAP-BAND. “We stopped providing this procedure about six years ago because of disappointing results. Patients didn’t see weight loss.”

Besides not being as effective as other bariatric surgical procedures, the LAP-BAND has been known to cause issues with the upper digestive tract. The Bariatric and Metabolic Institute tracked 300 patients who received a LAP-BAND. After a decade after their procedures, only about 2 out of 10 of them still had their band. The other 80 percent had their bands removed because they couldn’t tolerate it – they had too many side effects.

LAP-BAND Complications & Side Effects

“Patients want good results from their bariatric procedure, so they go back to their surgeons to have their bands inflated,” says Dr. Murr. “However, a tighter band means that patients often find they need to eat softer food.”

Dr. Murr explains that a tight LAP-BAND can lead to “maladaptive eating”: soft foods tend to be very calorie dense. Only things like chips, ice cream and other high-carbohydrate, processed foods can fit through a tighter ring at the top of the stomach. Of course, eating high calorie foods is counterproductive to weight loss, which is also why many patients find the LAP-BAND doesn’t work for them.

Also, in many cases, the band causes a condition called esophageal dysmotility. This means people experience a delayed passage of food down the esophagus, or “food tube,” to the stomach. If dysmotility is severe enough, food cannot be pushed down to the stomach, which can lead to vomiting. Often patients experience heartburn and regurgitation. With any of these side effects, to prevent further damage to the esophagus, the band must be removed.

Living with a LAP-BAND Today

Regardless of whether you are experiencing side effects, what should you do if you are one of the 5,000 to 6,000 people in the Tampa Bay area – or any other location – who still has a LAP-BAND?

Dr. Murr says that people in this situation should have an annual LAP-BAND checkup with their doctors as well as an X-ray to make sure the band is still in the proper place and that there are no issues with their esophagus. If imaging tests reveal a problem with the band, if you are having eating or acid reflux problems, or if the treatment simply isn’t leading to desired weight loss, then the LAP-BAND should be removed.

“We are very experienced at taking LAP-BANDs out,” says Dr. Murr of himself and his fellow bariatric surgeons at the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, John A. Dietrick, MD, FACS, and John Paul Gonzalvo, DO, FACS. This seasoned team is equipped to handle complicated bariatric surgical cases. They are willing to remove bands even when they were put in by another surgeon at another hospital.

With their LAP-BANDs gone, patients find immediate relief from their upper digestive tract problems, and they can go back to eating regular foods.

Not Your 2000s Bariatric Surgery

After their LAP-BANDs are removed, patients may wonder what their weight loss options are. When first used in the 2000s, the LAP-BAND seemed to be an attractive, less invasive alternative to an open bariatric surgery such as a gastric bypass. However, bariatric surgery has advanced a great deal since then. Today, the bariatric surgeons at AdventHealth Tampa routinely offer weight loss surgery through minimally invasive laparoscopic or robotic surgery procedures.

“About 99 percent of our procedures are now done as minimally invasive surgery,” says Dr. Murr. “This gives patients a short recovery with minimal pain, and patients usually leave the hospital in one or one-and-a-half days.”

“Bariatric surgery has become a mainstream treatment for obesity,” Dr. Murr stresses. He notes that he and his colleagues offer convenient telemedicine appointments so patients can begin their road to a healthier life even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are wondering if you should have your LAP-BAND removed, schedule a consultation at the AdventHealth Tampa Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. For an appointment with one of our experienced surgeons, call Call813-971-2470.

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