Lap Band Surgery, Gastric Banding and Gastric Bypass Surgery

A Permanent Way to Address Weight Problems

Lap band surgery, gastric banding and gastric bypass surgery are all names for the one procedure. Lapband surgery is on the increase. It is common knowledge that, in Western countries, obesity is increasing at an alarming rate and more and more people are resorting to lap band surgery in an effort to find a permanent way to lose excess kilos. For some, the danger of not losing weight could have fatal results. According to some sources, obesity has increased by 60% in the last decade. This is a huge increase and the trend shows no sign of halting.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

What is it and how to calculate it

The Body Mass Index (or Indicator) or BMI is one way of defining just how overweight an individual is. It is a measure of body fat based on the height and weight of an adult person.

A Belgium statistician Adolphe Quetelet (1796-1874) developed the BMI which was once known as the Quetelet Index. The BMI is now used internationally to measure obesity. There are BMI conversion tools on the web or you can calculate your BMI manually. The BMI is quite an accurate tool although it will not differentiate between above-normal muscle development (resulting perhaps in a higher weight than might be considered normal) and obesity.

To use the imperial BMI formula, multiply your height in inches by itself (height squared). Divide your weight (in pounds) by this figure and multiply the result by 703. Thus: (weight in pounds/height in inches2)*703.

To use the metric BMI formula, multiply your height in metres by itself (height squared). Divide your weight (in kilograms) by this figure and multiply the result by 703. Thus: (weight in kilograms/height in metres2)*703.

These calculations will give you your BMI.

BMI ranges differ depending on the country and/or organisation. The US Department of Health & Human Services recognises the following standards:

A BMI of below 18.5 is considered underweight, 18.5 to 24.9 is a normal range, 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30 and above obese.

A BMI of 40 or above is generally considered morbidly obese.

Gastric surgery may be indicated for those with a BMI of over 35 or those with a BMI of over 30 who have at least one obesity-related health condition.

Sources indicate that 97% of people who are morbidly obese and who lose weight by dieting will regain the weight within three years. Only a small percentage of those who lose weight by dieting are able to maintain their new weight. Genealogical and physical factors play a role in determining how individuals gain, lose and/or maintain weight levels.

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Benefits of Gastric Band Surgery

Figures show that individuals who have had lap band surgery lose up to half their excess body weight. What is even more impressive is that, as a general rule, the weight is not put back on. Such an outcome can be life-saving for the morbidly obese. Blood pressure drops and diabetes may be cured altogether. Life expectancy returns to normal levels.

Lap-band surgery is not a miracle cure. It is not a matter of having the surgery and carrying on as before. The whole lifestyle of the person needs to – indeed will have to - change. The procedure involves fitting a band round the stomach changing its shape from a bulbous to an hourglass shape. This is done through keyhole surgery and the stomach is effectively split into three parts. Food enters the top section, passes through a small opening (when it has been digested sufficiently to be small enough to pass through) into a third (lower) section where food is digested.

Following surgery, patients are unable to eat as much as before. Soon after eating, there is a feeling of fullness. There are strict rules to follow about what and how to eat. Food must be chewed well and eating must be slow. A four-course meal is not an option and half a cup of liquid at a time is about the maximum that can be managed. A plateful of food may take 20 to 30 minutes to be consumed.

Possible Risks of Gastric Band Surgery

There are risks involved with the surgery. The band can erode into the stomach and if the band is removed (the procedure is reversible) weight is often regained. The band is often adjusted several times after surgery to ensure weight loss continues. The top pouch of the stomach may enlarge due to stretching or the lap band can slip.

Other side effects include dehydration, difficulty in swallowing, reflux, nausea, vomiting, bloating, constipation and ulceration. Sometimes there is no weight loss and there may even be weight gain. The risks for the morbidly obese are just as frightening. Overweight people are at greater risk of diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease, hypertension, cancer, respiratory problems and sleep apnoea. Joint problems are also commonly experienced by the overweight. Give some serious thought to the issue, do some research and discuss your particular problems with your doctor before rushing in to this procedure.

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Facts and Figures About Lap Band Surgery

Gastric banding (gastric-reduction surgery) is undertaken by over 13,000 Australians a year. In the past ten years, the number of people undergoing lap band surgery has risen by more than 800%. The most popular type of gastric band surgery is LAGB (laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery) which accounts for 90% of cases. The procedure was first introduced into Australia in the 1990s and is now hailed as one of the safest and most reliable ways to encourage weight loss.

About 15% of gastric bands are reversed or changed to a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, both irreversible surgeries involving removal of part of the stomach.

In Australia, gastric band surgery costs between $11,000 and $15,000 if a person does not have private health insurance. With private cover, the cost is around $4,000.

Final Thoughts

As already stated, lap band surgery is not a quick fix. The emotional and psychological problems which often cause obese people to overeat need to be addressed if the surgery is to be successful. If emotional and psychological problems are at the heart of your obesity, then addressing these issues should come before any decisions to have surgery. With counselling, support and determination, you may be able to address your weight problems without resorting to such a drastic step.