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Lap Bands – How Long Do They Last?

OC Staff Lap Bands, Weight Loss Surgeries

While Lap Bands have been shown to be an effective solution for obese patients who have tried other methods of weight loss without success, the gastric band procedure is relatively new and it involves an implant. Any sort of long-term implant should be considered very carefully. Do you recall any of the recent news about prosthetic hips and mesh recalls? Even though these patients successfully had surgery, received their mesh or new hip, years later they started to experience problems. Many of these patients ended up with a second procedure to remove the implant.

This does not mean that this is the case with the Lap Band. But I do think you should carefully weigh the pluses and minuses of an implant – specifically the Lap Band.

History Of The Lap Band

The first Lap Band surgery was performed in Europe in 1993. That was 20 years ago, which is a decent amount of time. It wasn’t until 2001 that the Lap Band was approved in the United States. There is a lot of data that shows this product is safe. But, in my opinion, there are also some concerns.

  • Many European surgeons are not performing Lap Band surgeries as often as they once had. They now favor gastric sleeve and gastric bypass procedures.
  • Allergan recently announced it is selling off their Lap Band division because of declining sales.
  • According to CBS News, Allergan has funded some surgeons who’s marketing tactics have been less than medically sound.
  • The Lap Band has largely become popular due to Allergan’s marketing (this is an opinion).
  • Is 10 to 15 years of data enough to suggest that this band will be ok inside of my body forever?
  • A recent study in Europe showed the results from a study of 82 Lap Band patients from Belgium. The study showed long term complication rates as high as 40%.

How Long Does the Lap Band Last?

Many patients choose gastric banding because it is generally an easier and quicker procedure. This is true. Gastric Band procedures take about an hour to complete. Many patients like the idea that it is reversible. While the procedure can be reversed, it requires another procedure to reverse it. Lap Band removal is often just as long as the initial procedure and depending on how your body healed, it can be more risky than the original procedure.

If you are having Lap Band surgery, the goal is to keep your Lap Band around your stomach forever. Since it takes another major surgery to remove the Lap Band, it’s generally not worth the risk to have the surgery to lose weight and then remove the band once you’ve achieved your weight loss goal. The Lap Band is made of silicon (plastic). This silicon will be part of your body forever. There are no indications that silicon will fail over time. The silicon will outlive you.

Are Lap Bands Safe?

Lap Bands are generally safe. They’ve been approved in Europe and the United States for over a decade.

The band itself is made of plastic. Gastric Bands have a lot of technology behind them to help prevent erosion. Erosion is the result of the band rubbing against the patients esophagus or stomach. This can create a hole in the band and sometimes in the stomach or esophagus as well.

While over 500,000 people have had Lap Band surgery and the surgery itself has been proven safe, this doesn’t mean that its safe to have a band around your stomach for 30 plus years. Recent data shows mixed results.  While long-term complication rates can be high based on some studies, the operation itself is the safest of the three major procedures approved for weight loss.

Are You Under 40? 

If I am 34 years old and have a Body Mass Index of 42 and I get a gastric band, will this implant stay in my body for the rest of my life? Will it last 40 more years (assuming I make it to 70)? Or should I really assume that I am going to have 2 procedures – One surgery to lose weight and one to remove the band? These are all questions that should be asked before getting a Lap Band.

Personally, I’d like to see a few grandparents with Lap Bands who have successfully kept them in for 20 years without incident. I think that would make me more comfortable with this procedure. I know that a lot of money and technology went into developing the Lap Bad, but 40 years is a long time and I’m not sure I trust any foreign object inside my body for that amount of time.

Who pays for removal of my Lap Band?

It is possible that your insurance will pay for a revision procedure. This is a secondary procedure that is typically only approved if your Lap Band surgery did not work. Assuming you following the dietary and exercise guidelines and the band still didn’t produce the expected weight loss, then a revision surgery may be necessary. A newer procedure called the gastric sleeve is gaining in popularity because of these questions. Recently, insurance companies have started to cover gastric sleeves.


The information in this article is solely the opinion of the Author. Do not mistake this article for medical advice.


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