Lap Band Surgery
At first glance, lap band surgery seems like a perfect solution to losing one’s extra 100-200 pounds. But once you know the details, you might think otherwise.
During the procedure, an adjustable silicone band is placed around the top part of the stomach. You could think of what’s happening as putting a very tight belt around the stomach. Because the belt is so tight, it restricts how much you can eat at any one time. A port is added so that the band can be tightened or loosened as needed.
Lap band surgery is great for those who eat food servings that are greater in volume than normal food servings. They can’t seem to help themselves or stop themselves from eating a whole package of chips or a whole quart of ice cream.
Lap band surgery is also known as the gastric band procedure. In the procedure, a bypass of the duodenum for the food eaten is also created. Food is normally digested in the stomach and then passes to the duodenum. Once in the duodenum, vitamins, minerals and calories are absorbed.
However, when the duodenum is bypassed – as in what happens with lap band surgery, you are not absorbing your vitamins, minerals and calories. And if you can’t absorb calories, then you can’t gain weight. The result of shrinking the stomach down to the size of ½ cup and preventing absorption is weight loss.
There’s a negative feedback that results in the body if you do decide to ‘pig out’ after lap band surgery. You’ll feel very sick and can vomit. Thus, you won’t ever eat a lot of food ever again if you get this surgery, and that includes any holiday festivals for families and religion.
Mandatory Meal Changes After Lap Band Surgery
Your meal composition will change right after surgery, as some of the foods you might normally eat won’t be handled by the body that well anymore. Lap band surgery is a direct confrontation of your bad eating habits.
Here’s a sample daily meal plan:
Week 1. During this week you’ll only consume clear liquids. But forget about drinking a whole glass of anything anymore. You’re only allowed 1-2 ounces of fluid per hour. The types of clear liquids include water, fat-free milk or broth, and jello of all things. (Jello is not even a food. It has no nutrition whatsoever and is made from chemicals.)
This type of diet is obviously not providing enough fluid, as your fluid consumption can be only 32 ounces for the entire day. Yet doctors will tell you to stay hydrated. This is an impossible goal based on the guidelines set before you. Normal fluid consumption is determined by one’s body weight divided by two to give you the number of ounces needed for the day.
You’ll lose weight during this week because your caloric intake no way meets your needs.
Week 2-3. Now that your stomach has had plenty of time to recover from the surgery, you can add foods as long as they are liquid protein. Protein shakes are at the top of the list right now, and 60-70 grams of protein is the goal. You may also puree your meats and cottage cheese and include them.
The fluid intake requirement increases to 64 ounces per day but does not include coffee, foods with sugar added, and of course, alcohol. The #1 rule during this time is to never drink liquid in the window from 30 minutes before eating to 60 minutes afterwards. Multivitamins in liquid form or chewable versions are important during this time. Another critical supplement is calcium citrate, which is taken three times a day, although not at the same time as the multivitamin.
Week 4-5. Soft foods are reintroduced during this time. All foods eaten must be mashed or cooked sufficiently. The goals of this phase are to consume 60-70 grams protein daily, and drink up to 64 ounces fluid daily. However, the protein servings can only be up to 14 grams each, which is equal to 2 ounces. This means that you will have to eat about 5 small meals a day. The protein should be lean with very little fat. A very small amount of fat – say a tablespoon is allowed during the day. It’s also critical that you eat a minimum of three servings of vegetables daily.
Other vitamins such as vitamin D and vitamin B12 are usually added to the continuing vitamin and mineral regimen from the previous week.
Week 6. Now you’re ready to add back solid foods. Your meal plan during this time is protein, vegetables, a small amount of grain. There is very little sugar on this diet – and that’s the rule for the rest of your life. Processed foods are not on this diet either.
If you eat foods containing sugar or fat, you can experience dumping syndrome, which is the feeling of nausea followed by cramps, sweating, diarrhea and vomiting. It’s an unpleasant feeling and gives you essentially a ‘punishment’ for cheating. Eating fast will also give you dumping syndrome.
How Much Weight Can Be Lost?
Lap band patients see weight loss over three years after their surgery. If you have gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery done, you’ll lose most of the weight in the first year. To calculate how much weight you’ll lose, you can use the following formula:
Step 1. Take your current weight and subtract your ideal weight from it. This is the amount of extra weight you have.
Step 2. Take 50% of your extra weight and you’ll see how much weight loss is possible.
Sample Chart of Weight Loss
(based on an ideal body weight of 150 pounds)
|Current Weight||Excess Weight||Weight Loss||Expected Ending Weight|
|400 lbs.||250 lbs.||125 lbs.||275 lbs.|
|350 lbs.||200 lbs.||100 lbs.||250 lbs.|
|300 lbs.||150 lbs.||75 lbs.||225 lbs.|
|280 lbs.||130 lbs.||65 lbs.||215 lbs.|
|260 lbs.||110 lbs.||55 lbs.||205 lbs.|
|240 lbs.||90 lbs.||45 lbs.||195 lbs.|
|220 lbs.||70 lbs.||35 lbs.||185 lbs.|
Evaluate the chart above carefully to see if the weight loss from this method is truly what you need.
What’s the Down Side to Lap Band Surgery?
The cost of this surgery is $14,500 on the average (U.S. rates), but it may range up to $29,000. It’s possible that insurance companies may pay for it, if the procedure is medically necessary, such as in cases of morbid obesity. A BMI of 40 is the standard level at which insurance covers the surgery, or if you have two other health issues, the BMI is dropped to 35.
To calculate the cost of the weight loss, take the cost of the surgery and divide it by the amount of weight lost. For example, if the cost is $14,5000 and the weight loss expected is 100 pounds, that would be a cost of $145/pound lost.
However, this cost does not include the price of the second surgery that is needed about a year later – the cost for the surgery to remove the excess skin, which is up to $30,000. It does not include the price of the third surgery, to remove and reverse the lap band, a cost of about $15,000.
Thus, you’re looking at costs of $14,500 + $30,000 + $15,000 = $89,500 in the worst-case scenario. Remember that it’s possible that your insurance won’t pay for the whole cost, and they often refuse to pay for successive surgeries. Insurance companies also consider that the removal of the excess skin is a cosmetic procedure, not one done for health reasons. Now, with the recalculation, you get a cost of $895 for a pound lost if your weight loss was 100 pounds.
That’s a significant part of most people’s nest egg, and you’re not getting an overall improvement in health worth this amount.
New research studies are finding that there are several complications that result from this type of surgery. The complications are long-term and they happen to just about everyone that has the surgery.
The cost also does not include nutritionist appointments, the price of a gym for exercising, a new wardrobe, the supplements you’ll need, etc. You can expect that the cost of this weight loss method is about $100,000.
Think more than twice on whether it’s really worth it. If you’re getting the surgery in your 40s, the $100,000 could have doubled in 20 years for your retirement at a minimal rate of investment at 3.6%. It would have doubled in 10 years at an investment rate of 7.2%. It’s very difficult to make up for lost time when it comes to saving for retirement, as you end up paying a lot more in for investment.
And if you’re in your 60s, you still have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it to dip into your savings and retirement. The cost of inflation makes everything significantly more expensive in 10 years. Will you really have enough to live on for the rest of your life?
Complications of Lap Band Surgery
Check out the list of complications from this surgery:
- Blood clots
- Bowel perforations and constipation
- Dilation of the esophagus
- Food trapping
- Hiatal hernia
- Nausea and vomiting
- Problems with the port leaking, flipping and migrating
- Problems with the band eroding other surrounding tissues
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (causes pain, suffering and added cost of supplements)
- Excess skin formation, which is ugly and embarrassing
Read between the items on the list and you’ll see an awful lot of daily pain and suffering. Is this really what you want? Some of the complications on the list are not ones that only happen to some people that get the operation; they occur in almost everyone who has the procedure done. For example, the excess skin formation and the vitamin and mineral deficiencies will occur in just about everyone. The deficiencies don’t take long to occur. Some studies report that by the end of the second week after surgery, there’s at least one deficiency.
You have to seriously consider the reasons why you want lap band surgery.
You Still Have to Lose Weight on Your Own
One thing doctors may not tell you until you get started with the process is that you will still have to lose weight on your own before the surgery. A goal of up to 15% of your body weight or more is recommended for weight loss. Thus, if you weight 400 pounds now, you’ll have to whittle yourself down to 340 pounds before the surgery. To do this, your doctor will require an 800 calorie to 1200 calorie diet. These diets are associated with the greatest absolute losses in the shortest periods of time.
Taking all these points in mind, you may lose 100 or more pounds with lap band surgery but it won’t be fast, economical, or pain-free and will require you to completely change your eating habits permanently and eat up your retirement. Is it really worth it?