Health and Fitness

Lap Band Failures Drive Many to Safer Weight Loss Surgeries

March 29, 2022 — Jessica Furby struggled with weight most of her life, always weight-reduction plan and exercising to shed kilos. However nothing appeared to assist. By her 22nd birthday, she tipped the scales at greater than 300 kilos.

So, in 2011, whereas a university pupil in Pittsburgh, she determined to have a weight reduction process often called lap band surgical procedure. Medical doctors positioned an artificial belt round her abdomen to restrict what she may eat. It appeared like a very good choice on the time and, after her surgical procedure, she misplaced about 60 kilos.

However the advantages didn’t final. Within the months that adopted, she had ache and different issues. Worst of all, she finally regained all the burden she’d misplaced — after which some. By 2016, she weighed 350 kilos and was turning into prediabetic.

That’s when she determined to have the band eliminated and, on her physician’s advice, had one other process — gastric sleeve surgical procedure — the place surgeons take away about 80% of the abdomen.

Research have discovered the sleeve surgical procedures carry fewer issues and a a lot increased success price than lap band procedures, which Furby’s expertise has confirmed.

Right this moment, at age 32, she’s down to 288 kilos and says she is on her means to hitting her final aim of 200 kilos.

“The surgery has been a godsend,” she says. “I have not had any complications with it at all. The sleeve was life-changing for me.”

Furby’s expertise has change into extra widespread because the dangers, issues, and failures of lap band surgical procedures have been rising over the previous decade.

Extra band sufferers are selecting to have conversion surgical procedure to gastric sleeve and an identical bariatric process often called gastric bypass. On the identical time, fewer docs are doing lap band procedures, due to issues like Furby’s.

In accordance to the newest figures from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgical procedure, lap band procedures account for fewer than 1% of the 256,000 bariatric operations executed within the U.S. annually, whereas gastric sleeves add up to almost 60%. That makes sleeve surgical procedures probably the most generally carried out bariatric operation right this moment.

By comparability, 35% of bariatric surgical procedures had been lap band procedures in 2011, whereas sleeve operations accounted for underneath 18%.

Furby’s surgeon, Anita P. Courcoulas, MD, says the development is being pushed by most of the issues Furby skilled firsthand.

Courcoulas, who’s chief of minimally invasive bariatric and common surgical procedure on the College of Pittsburgh Medical Heart, says there are two most important causes for the decline in lap band procedures.

“It has been shown to be less effective for weight loss [than] other bariatric surgical procedures, and band intolerance often results in band removal,” she says.

Gastric sleeve, adopted by gastric bypass, are the 2 mostly carried out operations in america and worldwide, she says.

Courcoulas says the shift from gastric bypass to gastric sleeve procedures “is likely driven by the decline in the band usage, patient preferences for a less invasive operation, such as the sleeve compared to bypass, and surgeon preferences about which operation(s) to offer a given patient.”

Ali Aminian, MD, director of the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute on the Cleveland Clinic, agrees that lap band issues and failures, as well as to ineffective weight reduction, are behind the development, driving sufferers and docs to select safer and more practical procedures.

He says the Cleveland Clinic not does band operations, and he has executed numerous conversions.

“Around 50-60% of [lap band] patients require reoperation to take care of the complications,” he says. “So, when you have a surgery where more than half of the time the patients require reoperation, we cannot claim that’s a safe operation.”

Evolution in Bariatric Surgical procedure

The primary bariatric surgical procedures for weight reduction date again to the Fifties and Nineteen Sixties, when surgeons on the College of Minnesota first did experimental bypass operations. Adjustable gastric banding first appeared within the late Seventies and early Eighties.

However these procedures didn’t achieve widespread mainstream use till gastric band procedures gained full FDA approval in 2001. Medical trials have discovered individuals who have bariatric surgical procedure have a considerably decrease danger of coronary heart illness and different obesity-related well being issues.

Within the decade that adopted the FDA’s approval of lap band surgical procedure, it turned a preferred weight reduction process, accounting for greater than a 3rd of all bariatric surgical procedures by 2011.

“Fifteen to 20 years ago, lap band was the most commonly performed procedure for bariatric surgery worldwide and in the United States,” Aminian says. “It was very easy to do, it was quick — it takes 20 minutes to do the procedure — recovery was short, and initially patients had great outcomes. They would lose weight and were healthy.”

However over the previous decade, surgeons discovered that sufferers usually regained the burden they’d misplaced, and complication and failure charges rose.

“Because the lap band is a foreign body that we place inside the body, many patients had complications related to that foreign body,” Aminian says.

The band can generally transfer or be displaced, inflicting blockage of the abdomen, consultants be aware. Different widespread issues embody nausea, vomiting, acid reflux disorder, and esophageal points (reminiscent of a tough time swallowing). Some sufferers really feel ache, fixed meals cravings, or that they will’t eat or drink something. And painful infections and different issues can develop with the tubing or the port positioned underneath the pores and skin that’s linked to the band, which docs use to make changes after surgical procedure.

“Scar tissue can also form around the lap band that can cause a blockage in the stomach,” Aminian says. “Then if the band is too tight, it can erode into the stomach tissue or even go inside the stomach and cause perforation or bleeding.”

Against this, gastric sleeve and bypass procedures have been discovered to be safer, lead to longer-lasting weight reduction, carry fewer issues, and require fewer affected person reoperations. Aminian estimates that solely 2% to 3% of sufferers want second operations.

One other Key Issue: Metabolic ‘Reset’

Sleeve and bypass procedures additionally provide one other vital benefit over band operations: They assist reset the physique’s metabolism higher, altering appetite- and weight-related hormones within the physique.

These hormones can have an effect on meals cravings, assist folks really feel full after consuming, or increase weight achieve in methods that may trump willpower, consultants say.

“The lap band doesn’t change the hormones in the body, it’s just a restrictive band around the esophagus or the upper part of the stomach, so it limits the patient’s ability to eat too much,” Aminian says. “That’s why it doesn’t have the metabolic effects.”

However different procedures, just like the gastric sleeve, change the hormones within the physique. Eradicating the supply of these hormones means the affected person received’t have the identical appetitie, Aminian says.

“And that’s why it’s very effective. The problem with the lap band is the patient always has the feeling and desire to eat — they’re always hungry. That’s why in the long run, they fail,” he says.

“They change the setpoints,” Aminian says. “When the hormones in your body change, the [metabolic] setpoint in the brain also changes.”

He likens the metabolic setpoint to a thermostat in your house that regulates temperature inside.

“When a patient goes on a diet or goes on the lap band, the thermostat doesn’t change,” he says. “They may lose some weight, but they’re going to regain it because the thermostat is the same. But when the hormones in your body change, then the thermostat will change and you’re not going to regain the weight that you have lost.”

Sachin Kukreja, MD, a surgeon and CEO at DFW Bariatrics and Common Surgical procedure in Dallas, says he believes these metabolic adjustments are the largest issues behind profitable surgical procedures.

“People synonymize bariatric surgery with weight loss surgery, but really the metrics we should be using are more related to metabolic measures,” says Kukreja, who hasn’t executed a band surgical procedure since 2013. “And so, the metabolic parameters that change with bariatric surgery are much more significant in the setting with sleeve and gastric sleeve, and much less significant with lap band.”

David Arterburn, MD, agrees that resetting metabolism is vital however says the problem is “controversial and challenging” amongst bariatric surgeons.

“The metabolic setpoint is the idea that we have a biologically controlled set body weight that we will always return to. Clearly, this is not the case for everyone, as some people lose and maintain long-term weight loss,” says Arterburn, a common internist and bariatric surgical procedure researcher at Kaiser Permanente Washington Well being Analysis Institute.

Submit-Op Way of life Modifications Essential to Success

Bariatric surgeons and sufferers alike additionally say that no surgical process is a magic-bullet resolution for weight reduction. Sufferers who’ve any sort of bariatric surgical procedure should embrace post-op way of life adjustments — consuming more healthy diets, getting extra train, reducing out unhealthy habits — to shed pounds and preserve weight reduction.

Jan Lasecki, 54, a well being care specialist in Akron, OH, who had band-to-sleeve conversion surgical procedure in 2020, says the post-op follow-up was at the least as vital because the surgical procedure itself in serving to her shed kilos.

She says at first, she selected lap band surgical procedure a number of years in the past as a result of it was “less invasive” than gastric sleeve or bypass. However whereas she misplaced about 50 kilos, she regained it after about 6 years and had different issues.

So, 2 years in the past, Lasecki had two surgical procedures 6 months aside — one to take away her band, and a second to create a gastric sleeve. And the outcomes, she says, have been very profitable, partially due to the adjustments she made after surgical procedure, with the assistance of her physician’s workers.

“I have now lost about 90 pounds and have kept if off since surgery,” she says. “I would tell anyone considering any bariatric surgery, it was definitely worth it [and] having the sleeve resulted in greater weight loss.”

The follow-up was key to the success, she says.

The workers “have the tools and support to help you when you tend to fall back on old behaviors and start to regain weight,” Lasecki says. “They can help you before it gets out of control. I had no issues following either procedure from a surgery perspective.”

Sally and Robert Cordova — who had gastric bypass and sleeve surgical procedures, respectively, 3 years in the past — agree that the post-op way of life adjustments are vital to success.

“When we agreed to have this surgery, we agreed that this will be a lifestyle change for the rest of our lives,” says Sally, 48, an accounting specialist who’s misplaced 150 kilos — half her physique weight — since her surgical procedure. “You can’t just get to your ideal weight and then stop.”

Robert, 47, a federal border management agent whose workmates nicknamed him “Big Rob” when he tipped the scales at 336 kilos, says it’s a mistake to consider the surgical procedure as a “magic-bullet” resolution to weight problems. There’s extra to it than that, he says.

“One of the things I like about the process I’ve taken is, in my opinion, they set you up for success,” he says. “Because it’s not just having the surgery and you’re done; it’s all the classes educating you about all the lifestyle changes you have to do, and starting them before the surgery. The only people that I know personally who haven’t been successful with the surgery are those who haven’t made the lifestyle changes.”

Right this moment, at 230 kilos, Robert says he’s by no means felt higher.

“I feel great,” he says. “I have become more active, obviously doing everything is a lot easier. It got to the point where it was a task to just tying up my shoes!”

Ought to Band Sufferers Convert to Sleeve or Bypass?

Bariatric surgeons interviewed for this text had been reluctant to say that each one individuals who had lap band procedures ought to convert to gastric sleeve or bypass. However they made it clear that sleeve and bypass procedures are safer and more practical than lap band surgical procedure, which is why it’s hardly ever executed right this moment.

“If a patient experiences poor weight loss or complications from a band, they can consider conversion/revision to a sleeve or bypass,” says Courcoulas, echoing the views of different docs.

“The choice of revision procedure should be based on patient factors, including diabetes and total weight. Converting a band to a sleeve is a technically easier operation, and some studies show that there are fewer complications, compared to conversion to a bypass. These considerations need to be balanced with data that show that both weight loss and metabolic improvements such as diabetes are greater after bypass, compared to sleeve.”

Medical doctors and consultants additionally say it’s vital for sufferers who’re contemplating a lap band conversion to gastric sleeve or bypass to perceive the variations amongst these three major procedures, all endorsed by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgical procedure.

Right here’s a primer, together with the professionals and cons of every process:

Lap Band

In lap band surgical procedure, an adjustable gastric band fabricated from silicone is positioned across the high a part of the abdomen, making a small pouch above it, to restrict the quantity of meals an individual can eat. The dimensions of the opening between the pouch and the abdomen may be adjusted with fluid injections by a port positioned beneath the pores and skin.

Meals goes by the abdomen however is proscribed by the smaller opening of the band.


  • Lowest price of issues proper after surgical procedure
  • No division of the abdomen or intestines
  • Sufferers go residence on the day of surgical procedure, and restoration is fast.
  • The band may be eliminated, if vital.


  • The band might have to be adjusted, from time to time, and sufferers should make month-to-month workplace visits through the first yr.
  • There’s much less weight reduction than with different surgical procedures.
  • It comes with the danger of band motion (slippage) or injury to the abdomen over time (erosion).
  • The surgical procedure signifies that a international implant has to stay within the physique.
  • It has a excessive price of reoperation.
  • The surgical procedure can carry swallowing issues, enlargement of the esophagus, and different issues.

Gastric Sleeve

For laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy — usually referred to as gastric sleeve — surgeons take away about 80% of the abdomen, so the remaining abdomen is the scale and form of a banana.

The brand new, smaller abdomen holds much less meals and liquid, decreasing how a lot meals (and what number of energy) the affected person can get. By eradicating the portion of the abdomen that produces starvation and urge for food hormones, the surgical procedure additionally helps reset the physique’s metabolism — reducing starvation, growing emotions of fullness, and permitting the physique to attain and preserve a wholesome weight in addition to management blood sugar.


  • It’s technically easy and has a brief surgical procedure time.
  • It may be executed in sure sufferers with high-risk medical circumstances.
  • It might be step one for sufferers with extreme weight problems or as a bridge to gastric bypass.
  • The surgical procedure brings efficient weight reduction and enchancment of weight problems-related circumstances (sometimes 50%-60%, Mayo Clinic estimates), with a low complication price (2%-3%).


  • Nonreversible process
  • Could worsen or trigger new reflux and heartburn
  • Much less influence on metabolism, in contrast to bypass procedures

Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass, also called the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (French for “in the form of a Y”) is one other efficient process used to deal with weight problems and obesity-related illnesses (executed laparoscopically for the reason that Nineties).

For the operation, surgeons divide the abdomen right into a smaller high portion (pouch) concerning the dimension of an egg, then the bigger a part of the abdomen is bypassed and not shops or digests meals.

The small gut can be divided and linked to the brand new egg-sized abdomen pouch to enable meals to move.

Gastric bypass works by limiting the quantity of meals and energy a affected person can devour. It additionally decreases starvation and will increase fullness, permitting the affected person to attain and preserve a wholesome weight. The influence on hormones and metabolic well being usually leads to enchancment of diabetes and helps sufferers with reflux.


  • Dependable and long-lasting weight reduction
  • Efficient for remission of obesity-associated circumstances
  • Efficient weight reduction (60%-70%, Mayo Clinic estimates)


  • Technically extra advanced in comparison to gastric sleeve or band
  • Extra vitamin and mineral deficiencies than with gastric sleeve or band
  • Threat for small bowel issues and obstruction, in addition to ulcers, particularly with NSAID or tobacco use
  • Could trigger “dumping syndrome,” a sense of illness after consuming or ingesting, particularly sweets

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