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Which is Better - Lap Band Surgery or Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Jul 28, 2008
Bariatric surgery continues to grow in popularity, reflecting the increasing number of people who are struggling with obesity. Obesity is a chronic health condition that is very difficult to treat. For individuals who are more than 100 pounds overweight, diet and exercise alone are often not enough to enable permanent and substantial weight loss. As last resort, many are turning to a surgical solution to treat severe obesity and obesity related health conditions. If you are one of the many individuals living with obesity and considering weight loss surgery, you are taking the first step towards better health. As your next decision, it will be necessary for you to learn about your options and decide which bariatric procedure you want to undergo.

As you look into your surgical options, you'll find that the most common forms of weight loss surgery performed in the United States are Lap Band Surgery and Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery. By the numbers, more people undergo Gastric Bypass Surgery, a bariatric procedure which has been performed for over 30 years with impressive weight loss results. Lap Band Surgery, on the other hand, is a newer procedure, but it is a very promising weight loss procedure as well. Because Lap Band Surgery offers comparable long-term weight loss with increased overall safety, it is quickly gaining in popularity.

Compare Advantages and Disadvantages

Many prospective patients are interested in comparing Lap Band Surgery and Gastric Bypass Surgery to determine which is the better surgery. Studies have shown that long-term weight loss is comparable, but the methods by which the procedures promote weight loss is not. Since bariatric surgery requires a lifelong commitment to follow-up care and lifestyle changes, a person should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each procedure.

Gastric Bypass Surgery involves cutting and rerouting the stomach and small intestine and is considered major gastrointestinal surgery. The operation takes about two hours, requires a hospital stay of 2 to 3 days, and takes about 3 months for full recovery. Lap Band Surgery involves placing an adjustable silicone band around the top part of the stomach and is considered a simpler and safer procedure since it does not involve any cutting, stapling, or rerouting of the digestive system. The procedure takes less than an hour, most patients are in the hospital for less than 24 hours, and it takes about 6 weeks for full recovery. While both procedures should be considered permanent, if necessary, the lap band can either be adjusted or removed for health reasons.

Weight loss with Gastric Bypass Surgery occurs very rapidly in the first six months, and then settles at final weight 18 to 24 months after surgery. It promotes weight loss by limiting the amount of food that can be eaten, controlling the intake of sweets, and reducing the amount of calories that are absorbed by the body. Gastric Bypass Surgery is very effective at facilitating weight loss and resolving many obesity related health conditions, but there are some disadvantages of Gastric Bypass Surgery as well, including: the complexity of the operation, the surgical risks of infection, leaks, and blood clots; the possibility of developing ulcers, bowel obstruction, reflux, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies; and the need for nutritional supplements and testing of nutrient levels throughout a lifetime.

Lap Band Surgery promotes weight loss by limiting the amount of food that can be eaten at any one time and slowing digestion, which creates the feeling of fullness to help control hunger. An important aspect of Lap Band Surgery is that it can be adjusted, requiring scheduled follow-up care with the doctor for fills and adjustments. The Lap Band requires more patient effort in making healthy food choices, but in the long run this usually helps develop better eating habits leading to more permanent weight loss. Weight loss with Lap Band Surgery occurs at a steady and healthy rate, and although initial weight loss occurs slower than with Gastric Bypass Surgery, five years after surgery the weight loss is comparable.

Making the Decision

Learning about Lap Band Surgery and Gastric Bypass Surgery and comparing the differences will help give you the confidence to make an informed decision as to which type of bariatric surgery you want to pursue. While we can provide you with a general overview of the procedures, it is also important to talk to your bariatric surgeon for advice based on your personal health profile. Ultimately, the question is not which procedure is better, but the question is which procedure is right for you.
About the Author
If you are looking into your bariatric surgery options and want to learn more about Lap Band Surgery, please visit www.lapband.us.
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