Weight Loss Surgery Questions

What is the difference between Gastric Bypass and LAP-BAND® Surgery?

Arguably the best-known approach to weight loss surgery is the gastric bypass, sometimes referred to as “stomach stapling.” In a gastric bypass operation, the stomach is surgically made smaller so that you are unable to take in large amounts of food. In addition, a portion of the intestinal tract is restructured, causing the body to no longer be able to absorb foods as efficiently. After a gastric bypass, you must adhere to a special diet, taking in several small meals a day and avoiding certain foods. Gastric bypass is highly effective, often resulting in weight loss of over a hundred pounds.

The LAP-BAND® System is a relatively new approach and is growing in popularity. In this much less invasive procedure, a silicone band is used to block off part of the stomach. This has the effect of reducing the stomach in size, but unlike gastric bypass, the procedure is reversible. The LAP-BAND® System is suitable for those who need to lose smaller amounts of weight, but who are still considered morbidly obese.

Is weight loss surgery right for me?

As with any surgical procedure, the best way to determine if weight loss surgery is right for you is to consult with an experienced gastrointestinal surgeon. If you need to lose at least 60 to 90 pounds, the LAP-BAND® System is likely to be a good approach for you. If you need to lose 100 pounds or more, gastric bypass might be the better option. Your doctor and your bariatric surgeon can evaluate your weight loss needs and your overall health to make the best recommendation for your individual needs.

How much weight can I expect to lose with weight loss surgery?

Many factors determine the amount of weight you’ll actually be able to lose after weight loss surgery including:

  • How much you weigh to begin with
  • How closely you follow your doctor’s instructions
  • Your long-term commitment to intensive weight loss
  • Your overall health
  • How your body responds to the procedure and subsequent changes in dietary habits

When you consult with your physician or bariatric surgeon about weight loss surgery, be sure to ask how much you can expect to lose, and how fast.

Will weight loss surgery permanently affect my eating habits?

Gastric bypass surgery changes your body’s ability to absorb food, and some foods you enjoyed before will cause extreme discomfort if you eat them after the surgery. You might also experience “dumping syndrome,” or a too-rapid emptying of the digestive system, if you eat certain kinds of foods, or eat too much or too quickly.

Overall, if you want to successfully lose weight and maintain the weight loss after a gastric bypass, you must closely follow your doctor’s instructions and be willing to make changes to your eating habits. The surgery will make it harder for you to eat large meals, but if you continue to eat poorly and avoid exercise, the weight loss won’t be as successful as you wish it to be.