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What Is a Lap-Band?

The "Lap-Band System" is the brand name of the FDA-approved, adjustable gastric band used in the Lap-Band procedure. A Lap-Band is a silicone belt or collar that goes around the upper part of the stomach. After this restrictive, reversible surgery, your stomach will be roughly the size of a golf ball, and only able to hold an ounce of food. As a result, your appetite will decrease, and you will eat less, feel full sooner and gradually lose weight.

The Lap-Band System is adjustable. It is connected to a port that sits underneath the skin. This port can be inflated with saline to tighten it and expedite weight loss. Saline can also be removed to loosen the band and alleviate side effects, if necessary.

Who Are Candidates for the Lap-Band System?

Weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet. It is an option when dieting and exercising have failed and your obesity and/or its complications are affecting your health and quality of life. According to guidelines set forth by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you may be a candidate for Lap-Band surgery if you have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40. This is the equivalent of being about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women. A BMI takes height and weight into account to measure body fat. A BMI of 30 or above in adults is considered obese.

If you have a BMI of between 35 and 39 and an obesity-related illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you, too, may be a candidate for Lap-Band. There is some evidence that people with a BMI of 30 to 35 who have diabetes should also be considered candidates for Lap-Band surgery. This sentiment is echoed in a new consensus statement from the first International Diabetes Surgery Summit which appears in the January 2010 edition of Annals of Surgery.


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