Recently, news has come to light that gastric bypass surgery is better than gastric banding surgery for long-term weight loss and health. The article, published in The Wall Street Journal, has started a very good conversation comparing different surgical weight loss options. One that I would like to weigh in on.
This is not surprising news to weight loss surgeons in Dallas like me who offer a variety of different obesity surgeries to their patients.
This does not mean that the lap band is a bad or inferior operation. As I have always told all of my new patients, it is a different operation that is not made for everyone.
The band works by making you more full more quickly when you eat. When it is properly adjusted, it makes you full with 1/2 to 1 cup of solid food every time you eat. Combined with good nutrition (high protein, low carbohydrate) eating, small meals 5-6 times a day, and daily aerobic exercise for 1 hour, a person will lose weight. The science for the lap band shows that a person can lose 50 percent of their excess weight in two years.
The band helps you control portion size. It will not change what foods you choose to eat.
So if you are thinking that ice cream, cheese cake, snack machines and fast foods are part of a healthy, weight loss program – boy, do I have bad news for you!
It does not have the good hormone effects, nor the beneficial increase in metabolism, that bypass, gastric sleeve, or a duodenal switch provides.
Internet bulletins and messages boards, along with chat rooms, have a lot of non-medical people with good intention assigning miraculous features to the lap band. They are very excited about the band (and their surgeon), and they have the best of intentions, but they are poorly informed.
One example is the thought that the lap band is safer for women who want to have babies in their future. This is not true. Contrary to popular belief, women who have had any of these operations can (and do) go on to have healthy pregnancies with healthy babies.
There are tons of stories of people out there claiming the band has helped them lose all of their weight. These stories represent a tiny percent of successful patients. Successful gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and duodenal switch patients outpace band patients by the thousands.
The lap-band is a good operation, but it is not for everyone. Our science shows it works best for patients who have less weight to lose (100 pounds or less), who are younger than 40, do not have medical conditions like insulin-dependent diabetes or high blood pressure, and can exercise aerobically.
There are lots of people who fit in this category such as teenagers, young adults, and men and women who are struggling with their weight and want to be healthy.
The lap-band is not perfect. It is an artificial device made of high quality, medical grade silicone (yes, the stuff of breast implants but also of every other life saving medical item out there) that lives next to an organ that will move two to three thousand times a day. This means that the band moves too. This results in the most common issue, the band moving and slipping up or down. Because of where the band lives if anything goes wrong with it (slip up or down, port flipping upside down, infection, or breakage) an operation is needed.
The range of lap-band patients who may need a second or third operation is anywhere from 1-20 percent. This is in line with other devices like artificial knees, hips, heart valves and yes, breast implants.
What does all of this mean?
A person looking to have obesity surgery must weigh all options. Speak with a bariatric surgeon who is experienced in different types of weight loss surgeries, not just the lap-band. Get a second opinion.
All of my patients who know me will say that I spend a lot of time with them giving them all the good and bad of each weight loss operation.
The gastric sleeve, the gastric bypass, and the duodenal switch bring more powerful tools into play. They change the body’s relationship with food. They each increase the body’s internal thermostat to burn energy (read calories) more efficiently. The band does not do that. These operations also take away a person’s hunger, cravings and appetite. The band does not.
In one year, they can help a person lose excess body weight of 65, 70, and 80%. They will help cure sleep apnea, diabetes, and other medical conditions go away.
If you are looking to have weight loss surgery, get informed. The lap-band could be for you. If it’s not, I certainly will tell you. There are safe and effective options for you.
If you are one of my lap-band patients, don’t be anxious. You made the right choice for you. Make sure you are seeing me on a regular basis so I can help keep that thing working right for you.
All of the obesity operations I perform have different effects and work differently for everyone. I always help my patients choose the best operation for them. My job as a surgeon is to make sure that whatever surgery my patient choose, I do it the safest it can be done, so they can get back to their new normal, healthy and weight losing life as possible.
Get more information about both gastric bypass and the Lap-Band procedure by contacting us today. Dr. Dirk can provide you with information and help you determine the right procedure for you.