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How Lap Bands Work

OC Staff Lap Bands, Weight Loss Surgeries

Reviewed by Enrique Elli, M.D.

The gastric band procedure (commonly known as Lap Band) is a restrictive weight loss surgery.The Lap Band was FDA approved for the treatment of morbid obesity in 2001 in the United States. Next to gastric bypass surgery, gastric banding is the second most frequently performed bariatric surgery.

  • You should lose weight.
  • It does not reduce hunger.
  • You will have to make a long term dietary change after surgery.
  • Its reversible but requires another surgery.
  • The band remains for a lifetime.
  • Snacking can lead to weight gain.
  • You will not get dumping syndrome if you eat sugar like you could with gastric bypass surgery.
  • Its a quick, minimally invasive surgery.
  • You will likely improve most of your obesity related comorbidities.
  • There are complications but they are typically less severe compared to other weight loss surgeries.
The Gastric band procedure

Gastric band procedure.

How Lap Gastric Banding Works

During surgery the Lap Band, made by Apollo Endosurgery Inc., is placed around the top portion of the stomach directly below the esophagus. A small port is inserted under the skin and fat and tubing is attached to the band. This allows the doctor to adjust the tightness of the band after surgery. The band is then filled with saline that fills the band and compresses it around this area of the stomach. Food then sits above this area giving the patient a full feeling until the food slowly makes its way into the rest of the stomach where it goes through the normal digestion process.

  • The Lap Band is typically adjusted a few weeks after surgery.
  • Your surgeon will fill the band with saline multiple times until a balance of restriction and ability to eat is achieved.

Lap Bands are successful when you change your diet and lifestyle. Constant snacking and unhealthy foods can lead to no weight loss or weight gain after weight loss.

Amount of Weight Loss from Lap Band Surgery

Lap Bands have a history of good long term weight loss based on clinical reporting. However, some patients lose little or no weight from lap gastric bands. Typically this is because dietary guidelines are not followed.

  • 1 Year: 40% excess weight loss
  • 3 Year: 43% excess weight loss

Obesity related comorbidities are also improved after surgery:

  • Acid Reflux Disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea

Does the Lap Band Remain Forever?

While the Lap Band can be removed, it is typically only removed if there is a complication. Surgery is required to remove the band. If there is scarring or the band has eroded portions of the esophagus, the surgery to remove the band can be difficult.

When choosing the Lap Band it is assumed that the device will remain for the rest of your life.

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Who is it for?

The gastric band procedure tends to work well for people who are committed to losing weight. If you are someone that drinks a lot of soda, milkshakes and generally has an addiction to food, this procedure might not be appropriate for you unless you are willing to make lifestyle changes. Why? Because its easy to cheat with the band. Its also reversible. There are people who eat constantly and eat small amounts of bad food (i.e. chips, shakes, and other fattening snacks). The band might not prevent you from doing this.

Does it work?

  • Yes. But you must be prepared to make lifestyle changes. Lap Band surgery is not a quick fix and if you don’t change your diet and your lifestyle you will fail to lose much weight.

Complications from Lap Gastric Banding

Complication rates from surgery are low but can occur:

  • Band slip.
  • Infection of band or port.
  • Bleeding Damage to esophagus or liver.



Lap band surgery can be a safe and effective tool to lose weight. Lifestyle change is important for long-term success. The Lap Band will help you get the weight off, but it’s up to you to keep it off. Permanent dietary changes along with an exercise program that can be maintained for life is required.

Long-term complication rates are higher than other bariatric surgery options. However, the rate of serious short term complication is very low.

While the Lap Band has decreased in popularity compared to other surgical options, it can still be an effective tool for those who are willing to make permanent changes.


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