Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (Lap Band)

These patients are ideal candidates for lap band surgery:

  • You have a relatively low BMI (35-42)
  • You are good at losing weight, just not at keeping it off
  • You know that you can lose the weight on your own, you just need a little help
  • You want the safest bariatric option, even if it may be slightly less effective
  • You understand that there is a higher long term complication rate after gastric banding surgery than other surgeries

The Adjustable Gastric Band (more commonly known as Lap-Band) is another option for bariatric surgery. This procedure takes approximately one hour, with a 23 hour stay in the hospital.


Gastric banding is the simplest restrictive operation used for weight loss. A band made of silicone material is placed around the stomach near the upper end, creating a small upper pouch (A) and a narrow passage into the larger lower portion of the stomach. This technique leaves the digestive tract in the normal sequence for digestion and absorption. The only intended effect is a reduction in capacity for a meal. Small pouch volume and correct outlet diameter are very important for the success of this operation.

One advantage of gastric banding is that the stomach is not cut, stapled, or entered. Thus, the risk of infection is less and there is no possibility of a leak. However, there is always a risk of injuring the esophagus or stomach when placing the band, but this risk is very small. Other important advantages are that the operation can be revised and is the only completely reversible technique if a need arises. In such a case, the band is removed and the stomach recovers its normal anatomy, without sequela. Without question, the adjustable gastric band is the safest surgical option available for weight loss.

Gastric Banding is done with an adjustable silicone band connected through a tube to a port (reservoir) (B), which is placed under the skin of the upper abdomen. The collar around the stomach outlet is adjusted by adding or removing small amounts of saline solution by inserting a needle into the injection port in the physician’s office.

The surgery takes less than an hour to complete and requires only an overnight stay in the hospital.  Typically, patients return to work one week after the surgery, although many take even less time off.  The Lap Band Surgery is one of the safest surgical procedures performed in the United States, safer than gallbladder surgery, appendectomy or even childbirth.  After surgery, you are placed on a very restrictive diet and in office follow up visits once a month for the first year.  Typically 2-5 adjustments are required in order to get the band properly adjusted.  These adjustments are performed in the office and take only a few seconds.  They are not painful.

There are a few important things that anyone considering a lap band procedure should know before proceeding.  First, the lap band does not take the calories out of the food – you are going to need to work harder than you’ve ever worked before to change you eating habits and exercise routine in order to succeed.  The Lap Band doesn’t make it easy to meet your weight loss goals, it just makes it possible.  Second, the Lap Band doesn’t “block the food” from going through so that you are physically incapable of eating more than a few bites.  Rather, it allows you to eat a small portion (1/4 to ½ cup) of food and feel satisfied for 3-5 hours after eating.  For those patients who are looking for the safest surgical option, the lap band is clearly the best choice for safety.

Next: Learn about the Gastric Sleeve procedure