Make a Change for the Better
With the Lap-Band System
For people who are seriously overweight, life can be a constant struggle.
Not only do obese individuals develop chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, but they’re also often professionally and socially stigmatized. Meanwhile, they may try one diet after another in a futile effort to lose weight—only to fail again.
To help people struggling with severe obesity, Saddleback Memorial-San Clemente recently introduced the Lap-Band® System for surgical weight loss. An alternative to more invasive procedures such as gastric bypass surgery, the Lap-Band method is performed laparoscopically, requiring only five tiny incisions. “The procedure involves encircling an inflatable silicone band around the upper portion of the stomach, resulting in the formation of a small pouch,” says Chirag Patel, M.D., medical director of the Saddleback Memorial-San Clemente Lap-Band Program. “This limits the amount of food patients can eat, permitting them to feel full sooner. This combination of hunger satisfaction with decreased food intake is the key element to the success of the procedure, which induces sustained weight loss. Additionally, the Lap-Band method does not involve stapling or cutting of the stomach or intestines, thus making it a much safer procedure.” Although the device is designed to remain in place indefinitely, the procedure can be reversed and the band removed. This differs from gastric bypass surgery, which is permanent.
The FDA-approved band is adjustable. It can be tightened in a doctor’s office by injecting saline solution into the hollow silicone band through an access port that is attached to the patient’s abdominal wall well below skin level, and thus not visible from the outside. The band can be loosened in the same manner by removing some of the solution. This allows doctors to regulate weight loss. When the band is tightened, patients eat less; when it’s loosened, they’re able to eat more.
Although the Lap-Band procedure is commonly performed elsewhere as an outpatient procedure in surgery centers, the Saddleback Memorial-San Clemente program is an outpatient procedure performed in the hospital. “This feature is extremely important, adding a critical safety factor by ensuring that patients receive expert care and ongoing monitoring during the hours following surgery,” says Dr. Patel.
Losing Weight Safely
Most people who have had the Lap-Band procedure are able to return to work in about a week. Typically, patients can begin an exercise regimen and resume their regular routine in four to six weeks. People who have Lap-Band surgery must follow a prescribed nutrition plan. A specific exercise program, accompanied by counseling, may also be recommended. Checkups after the Lap-Band procedure are also an important part of follow-up care. Patients are typically seen weekly or biweekly during the first month following surgery and every four to 12 weeks for the first year. Adjustments in the band may be made during some of these visits. During the second and third year following surgery, follow-up visits are typically scheduled every three to six months.
Meanwhile, weight loss progresses at a steady pace—usually between one to three pounds a week during the first year after the procedure. By losing weight gradually, patients can avoid the health risks associated with more rapid loss. Most patients are successful in losing up to 50 percent of their excess body weight within two years, and are able to keep it off. To qualify for the Lap-Band procedure, patients must be at least 75 pounds overweight and have tried other diets with little success. They must also undergo a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation and be willing to commit to a lifelong diet of low-fat, low-calorie foods. Once approved for the procedure, all candidates receive extensive counseling prior to surgery regarding post-operative diet and exercise.
To educate severely overweight individuals and their families about the procedure, Saddleback Memorial-San Clemente will present free seminars on Lap-Band surgery.
For more information or a free consultation with a counselor about the procedure, please call (949) 452-4LAP.