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Lap Band: What if it’s not working?

Written By: Emma Squillace

Some people who have a lap band lose a substantial amount of weight. Others lose a moderate amount of weight, and some do not find the success they want. There are also people who lose a lot of weight at first, but slowly start to regain that weight as time goes by. If you have a lap band but are not losing the weight you wanted, or find yourself regaining weight, there are options.

Why the band may not work

The lap band is the least invasive of all the bariatric surgery treatments we have. Because of this, it’s also the least aggressive in terms of weight loss. While some people are able to lose a pound or two every week with the lap band – which can add up to an impressive 50 to 100 pounds in a year – others do not have that success. One reason can be the types of food they eat. Without significant lifestyle changes, the lap band will not lead to weight loss. For example, if someone has a lot of liquid calories like flavored lattes or milk shakes, they can easily exceed their calorie goals.

Adjustments are necessary

In addition to eating carefully, most patients need to have ongoing adjustments in order to be successful at losing weight with their band. If someone has not been able to come into the office regularly for adjustments, the band may be too loose to do its job. And finally, the band is not the right choice for everyone. If you are not losing weight with the lap band, this is not a personal reflection of your failure. Instead, this means there is likely another treatment option that will be a better fit for you.

Removal of the lap band

If your band is causing problems, or not helping you lose weight, we can remove it surgically. Remember, the lap band procedure does not involve any cutting or stapling of your digestive tract. This means that in most cases, the removal is a relatively straight forward procedure. After band removal some patients choose to have a gastric sleeve operation, and this is a highly successful option in most cases.

“Band to sleeve” operation

You may have heard the phrase “band to sleeve”. This refers to what many people call “revisional surgery” or “reoperation” where we take out the band, and do a gastric sleeve procedure. Many people who were not successful losing weight with the lap band, find they are successful with a sleeve. When people have the sleeve, they often report feeling less hungry as soon as the operation is done. It’s believed that the gastric sleeve removes a part of the stomach that creates ghrelin – which is known as the hormone that makes us feel hunger.

In some cases, patients prefer to have this band to sleeve conversion done in a single day. Other times they prefer to have the band removed, and have the sleeve done in separate surgeries. Both of these are options we offer at West Medical, and our bariatric surgery experts can help you make that decision.

When you should consider band removal

A lack of weight loss, or weight regain, can be reasons to think about band removal. If these are your only complaints, first we should make sure you’ve got an appropriate level of fluid in your band, and that your eating habits are in sync with weight loss. Other side effects people can have with the band are serious heart burn, acid reflux, difficulty swallowing, spitting up, and an inability to eat solid foods. Any of these can be an indication that you should have a consultation that includes discussion of possible band removal, so please give us a call if you have any of these symptoms.

If you have undergone lap band surgery and are worried about side effects, or if you’re not losing weight, please call us. Our expert bariatric surgeons can speak to you about your experience so far, and help you understand your options. Studies show that over 70% of patients that have a band removal and conversion, successfully lose weight. This is the case even for people who did not lose weight with the band initially. If you’d like to come in and talk to us more about weight loss, possible lap band removal and our treatment options, give us a call today at (855) 690-0565.

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