As obesity in the U.S. reached epidemic levels, more and more patients are considering weight loss surgery as an effective method of permanently losing excessive weight. Lap band surgery is a type of weight loss surgery considered to be safer than the classic gastric bypass surgery, as it requires no cutting of the stomach and it can be performed laparoscopically, meaning surgery risks and recovery time are considerably reduced.
Lap band weight loss surgery consists in the placing of a gastric band around the stomach. The band will reduce the size of the stomach, limiting food intake and therefore leading to weight loss. Although efficient, lap band surgery is not for everyone. In order to be successful, the surgery has to be followed by serious lifestyle changes.
What to expect after Lap-Band surgery
Immediately following surgery a patient might feel discomfort and nausea from the anesthesia, but these problems should diminish in the following 24 hours. After an x-ray exam, designed to make sure the gastric band is properly placed, the patient can return home. However, the body needs time to recover.
The day after surgery the patient can walk around the house, but he or she will require at least one week off work, or two weeks in case of physically demanding jobs. Lifting heavy objects or strenuous activities must be avoided for at least one week. Jogging is allowed after two weeks while swimming after eight weeks.
Most of the surgeons will establish a follow-up appointment within ten days after surgery to make sure the body is healing properly. After five weeks the gastric band will be adjusted by adding or removing saline, to tighten or loosen the fit. The purpose of the procedure is to ensure an optimal weight loss.
What about eating habits?
Radically changing eating habits is essential for a successful weight loss. The failure to do so can cause severe complications and additional health problems. Immediately following surgery, to allow recovery, a patient will be limited to a liquid diet. Gradually soft foods and then solid food can be added to the diet. Before every lap band surgery, a dietician should be consulted about adjusting eating habits.
Following a lap band surgery, a patient’s stomach capacity will be reduced between 3 and 8 ounces. That means the volume of food ingested should not exceed 240 ml. Here is some general dietary advice for lap band patients:
- Avoid consuming sugary or fatty foods;
- Drink between 1 and 1.5 liters of water every day;
- Avoid drinking water for half an hour after meals;
- Drink liquids that are free from calories;
- Avoid drinking carbonated drinks or alcoholic beverages for six months after surgery;
- Do not eat dried nuts or ceded fruits;
- Avoid eating corn, nuts, and fibrous vegetables as they can block the food passage;
- Make sure to consume fresh products at every meal.
Although the above-mentioned advice are generally useful, patients should follow exactly the prescriptions of their dietician or surgeon.
Where to find Lap Band support?
Although lap band surgery itself is not a complicated procedure for experienced surgeons, the most challenging part of the weight loss process is the post-operative period. Severely obese individuals are expected to lose 40 to 60 percent of their excess weight within 18 months.
However, success greatly depends on the patient’s commitment to a new, healthy lifestyle. Most people go through this period more easily if they get to share their experiences with other patients in a similar situation. Therefore the majority of U.S. hospitals house weight loss support groups.
At Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles, lap band surgery patients are awaited in a friendly and compassionate environment to share their experience and benefit from necessary support through all stages of their weight loss journey.