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Lap band surgery

4-minute read

What is lap band surgery?

Lap band surgery is used to help someone lose weight. It involves putting a ring around the top part of the stomach. The ring slows the entry of food to the main part of the stomach and the person feels full after eating only a small amount of food.

What is a lap band?

A lap band is a small ring that contains salt water. The band can be made larger or smaller by the injection or removal of salt water.

Lap band surgery is also called laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), or gastric banding.

When should I consider lap band surgery?

If you are very obese, and have tried hard to lose weight by dieting and doing more exercise, your doctor might suggest lap band surgery to help you with weight loss.

Losing weight after gastric bypass surgery can help reduce problems with type 2 diabetes, asthma episodes and blood pressure, and can help improve heart health.

How do I prepare for lap band surgery?

If you are having lap band surgery, you may be given a meal replacement plan for at least 2 weeks before surgery and will need to fast the night before so that you have an empty stomach.

It's a good idea to arrange in advance for someone to take you home from hospital, which might be the same day as the surgery.

Your doctor will discuss with you the details of preparing for the operation.

What happens during lap band surgery?

The surgery is done under general anaesthetic. It can be done as day surgery, or you might spend 1 or 2 nights in hospital.

The surgeon will make small cuts to the skin and muscle that lie over the stomach. They will then use keyhole surgery to place the hollow doughnut-shaped band around the top part of the stomach. This will create a small pouch.

The surgeon will also put a small tube, sometimes called a port, under the skin of the abdomen. This connects to the band. This is how salt water is added to or removed from the band.

illustration of a lap band
Illustration of a normal digestive system and a digestive system after lap band surgery.

What can I expect after the procedure?

If you have lap band surgery, you will start having liquid foods only, then your food will be pureed. It will be a few weeks before you eat solid food.

A dietitian will advise you on how to change your eating habits to keep healthy while losing weight after lap band surgery.

You will need to visit your doctor to have the band adjusted, possibly several times, to the size that works for you for both weight loss and how you feel. You do not need any anaesthesia for the adjustment.

What can go wrong?

Lap band surgery is a very safe procedure. Sometimes infection or bleeding occurs at the wound. Very rarely, the ring can slip out of place or damage the stomach, intestines or other organs. Other complications after surgery can include vomiting, trouble swallowing, not being able to get the nutrients the body needs, heartburn, inflammation of the stomach, gallstones or not losing weight.

Talk to your doctor about the risks of the procedure.

More information

Visit our guide to bariatric surgery to learn more about the different types of bariatric procedures.

Also, be sure to ask your doctor any questions you might have about lap band surgery.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: January 2021

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