Frequently asked questions
It is important that you ask us all the questions you have. We invite you to watch Dr. McEwen's videos and read the FAQ below to find answers to many common questions about lap band surgery, post-operative lifestyle changes and follow-up care.
If you have more questions about how lap band can help you, we encourage you to attend our free class on weight loss surgery or watch a free bariatric surgery video online. Or you can call or e-mail us to learn more. We're here to help!
Dr. McEwen answers your questions about lap band
More lap band surgery questions
Will I be sick a lot after the operation?
The LAP-BAND® System limits food intake. If you feel nauseated or sick on a regular basis, it may mean that you are not chewing your food well or that you are not following the diet rules properly. However, it could also mean that there is a problem with the placement of the band so you should contact us if this problem persists. Vomiting should be avoided as much as possible. It can cause the small stomach pouch to stretch. It can also lead to slippage of part of the stomach through the band, which would reduce the success of the operation. In some cases, it would also require another operation.
How long will it take to recover after surgery?
If lap band surgery is performed laparoscopically, patients typically spend less than 24 hours in the hospital. It takes most patients about a week to return to work and a month to six weeks to resume exercising. In the case of open surgery or if there are complications, recovery may take longer.
How much weight will I lose?
Weight-loss results vary from patient to patient, and the amount of weight you may lose depends on several things. The band needs to be in the right position, and you need to be committed to your new lifestyle and eating habits. Obesity surgery is not a miracle cure, and the pounds won’t come off by themselves. It is very important to set achievable weight-loss goals from the beginning. A weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds a week in the first year after the operation is possible, but one pound a week is more likely. Twelve to eighteen months after the operation, weekly weight loss is usually less. Remember that you should lose weight gradually. Losing weight too fast creates a health risk and can lead to a number of problems. Your main goal is to have weight loss that prevents, improves, or resolves health problems connected with severe obesity.
How do weight loss results with lap band compare to those with the gastric bypass?
Studies have shown that at five years, the results between gastric Roux-en-Y and LAP-BAND® System are within 4% of one another: Gastric bypass (59%) and LAP-BAND® System (55%). You should focus on long-term weight loss and remember that it is important to lose weight gradually while reducing obesity-related risks and improving your health.
Does the LAP-BAND® require frequent office visits after surgery?
Check-ups are a normal and very important part of adjutable banding surgery follow-up. Office visits are based on personal performance, but usually occur in week 2-3 after surgery for a post-operative visit, in week 6 for the first initial adjustment, and then every 4-8 weeks thereafter, depending on the patient, for adjustments and weigh-ins for the first 12 months after surgery. During years 2-5, visits are every 8-12 weeks with the physician. Monthly group support sessions and email support are available the entirety of your treatment.
Does the lap band limit any physical activity?
The lap band does not affect or hamper physical activity including aerobics, stretching and strenuous exercise.
How is the band adjusted?
Adjustments are normally performed in the office setting. Dr. McEwen does use a local anesthetic. Occasionally, adjustments are performed in the X-ray department. If so, they are done there so the access port can be clearly seen. When X-rays are used, your reproductive organs should be shielded. A fine needle is passed through the skin into the access port to add or subtract saline. This process usually takes only a few minutes. Most patients say it is nearly painless.
Do I have to be careful with the access port just underneath my skin?
There are no restrictions based on the access port. It is placed under the skin in the abdominal wall, and once the incisions have healed it should not cause discomfort or limit your movements or any physical exercise. The only sensation you may have from the port is when you go in for adjustments. If you feel persistent discomfort in the port area, let us know as soon as possible.
Can the band be removed?
Although the LAP-BAND® System is not meant to be removed, it can be. In some cases this can be done laparoscopically. The stomach generally returns to its original shape once the band is removed. After the removal, though, you may soon go back up to your original weight or even gain more.
Will I need plastic surgery for the surplus skin when I have lost a lot of weight?
That is not always the case. As a rule, plastic surgery will not be considered for at least a year or two after the operation. Sometimes the skin will mold itself around the new body tissue. You should give the skin the time it needs to adjust before you decide to have more surgery.
Is it true that the lap band seems “tighter” in the morning?
This is a fairly common feeling, especially for people with bands that are tight, or just after an adjustment. During the day, the water content in the body changes and this may cause the band to feel “tighter” some of the time. Some women have also noticed that the gastric lap band feels tighter during menstruation.
Will I feel hungry or deprived with the lap band?
Adjustable gastric banding makes you eat less and feel full in two ways – by reducing the capacity of your stomach and increasing the time it takes food to get through the digestive system. After a small meal, the amount of which varies from person to person, you should feel full. If you follow the nutrition guidelines when you choose your food and then chew it well, you should not feel hungry or deprived. Remember that the LAP-BAND® is a tool to help you change your eating habits.
What will happen if I become ill?
One of the major advantages of the LAP-BAND® System is that it can be adjusted. If your illness requires you to eat more, the band can be loosened by removing saline from it. When you have recovered from your illness and want to lose weight again, the band can be tightened by increasing the amount of saline. If the band cannot be loosened enough, it may have to be removed.
What about pregnancy?
Becoming pregnant can be easier as you lose weight. Your menstrual cycle may become more regular. If you need to eat more while you are pregnant, the band can be loosened. After the pregnancy, the band may be made tighter again, and you can resume losing weight.
Will I need to take vitamin supplements?
You may. It’s possible you may not get enough vitamins from three small meals a day. At your regular check-ups, your specialist will evaluate whether you are getting enough vitamin B-12, folic acid and iron.
What about other medication?
You should be able to take prescribed medication. You may need to use capsules, break big tablets in half or dissolve them in water so they do not get stuck in the stoma and make you sick. You should always ask the doctor who prescribes the drugs about this.
What if I go out to eat?
Order only a small amount of food, such as an appetizer. Eat slowly. Finish at the same time as your table companions. You might want to let your host or hostess know in advance that you cannot eat very much.
What about alcohol?
Alcohol has a high number of calories. It also breaks down vitamins. An occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, though, is not considered harmful to weight loss.
Can I eat anything in moderation?
After your stomach has healed, you may eat most foods that don’t cause you discomfort. However, because you can only eat a little it is important to include foods full of important vitamins and nutrients such as those recommended in the nutrition section of this booklet and as advised by your surgeon and/or dietitian. If you eat foods that contain lots of sugar and fat or drink liquids full of “empty” calories, such as milkshakes, the effect of the LAP-BAND® may be greatly reduced or cancelled.
Will I suffer from constipation?
There may be some reduction in the volume of your stools, which is normal after a decrease in food intake because you eat less fiber. This should not cause you severe problems. If difficulties do arise, let us know as soon as possible.