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Lap band surgery

Lap band surgery is used to help someone lose weight. It involves putting a ring around the top part of your stomach. The ring slows the entry of food to the main part of your stomach and you'll feel 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, gastric banding, or the LAP-BAND system.

When should I consider lap band surgery?

If you are very overweight, 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?

You may be given a meal replacement plan in the lead up to 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. You might be a day patient, or you might spend one or two nights in hospital.

The surgeon will make small cuts to the skin and muscle that lie over your 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 your abdomen, which 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?

You'll start having liquid foods only, then your food will be pureed. It'll 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'll 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 don't 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 your stomach.

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.

Last reviewed: February 2017

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Obesity surgery

Obesity surgery can offer rapid weight loss but, to be successful, it must be accompanied by healthy eating habits and regular exercise. If the surgery is reversed, weight will inevitably be regained (even with the best of willpower), as the genetic tendency resulting in obesity can never be cured and is only modified by surgery.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

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