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Frequently Asked Questions

For general questions about obesity - what causes it; what are its complications; treatment options - please see my Obesity Information seminar presentation.


Q: Will I be sick a lot after the operation?
A: The LAP-BAND® System limits food intake. If you feel nauseous or sick on a regular basis, it may mean that you are not chewing your food well enough 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 LAP-BAND® System, so contact the surgeon if this problem persists. Vomiting should be avoided as much as possible as it can cause the small stomach pouch to stretch. It can also lead to slippage of part of the stomach through the LAP-BAND® System and reduce the success of the operation. In some cases, it may require another operation.

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Q: How long will it take to recover after surgery?
A: If LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System surgery is performed laparoscopically, patients typically spend less than 24 hours in the hospital. Most patients return to work in about a week, and to exercise in about a month to 6 weeks. In the case of open surgery, or if there are complications, recovery may take longer.

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Q: How much weight will I lose?
A: Weight loss results vary from patient to patient, and the amount of weight you lose depends on several things. The LAP-BAND® System needs to be in the right position, and you need to be committed to your new lifestyle and eating habits. Weight loss 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 start. A weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds a week in the first year after the operation is possible, but 1 pound a week is more likely. Twelve to 18 months after the operation, weekly weight loss is usually less. Gradual yet steady weight loss with the LAP-BAND® System can be healthy for you. Losing weight too quickly creates a health risk and can lead to a number of problems. The main goal is to have weight loss that prevents, improves, or resolves health problems connected with severe obesity.

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Q: How do the weight-loss results with the LAP-BAND® System compare to those with the gastric bypass?
A: Surgeons have reported that gastric bypass patients lose weight faster in the first year. By 5 years, however, many LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System patients have achieved weight loss comparable to that of gastric bypass patients. 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.

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Q: Does the LAP-BAND® System require frequent office visits after surgery?
A: Check-ups with your doctor are a normal and very important part of the LAP-BAND® System follow-up. Adjustments may be performed during some of these visits. Monthly visits for the first 6 months and 2 to 3 visits per year thereafter are our usual practice.

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Q: Does the LAP-BAND limit any physical activity?
A: The LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System should not hamper physical activity, including aerobics, stretching, and strenuous exercise.

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Q: How is the LAP-BAND® System adjusted?
A: Adjustments are often carried out in the office. A fine needle is passed through the skin into the access port to add or subtract saline. This process most often takes only a few minutes and most patients say it is nearly painless. Occassionally, a port may not be easily accessible and may thus require an adjustment in the x-ray department.

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Q: Do I have to be careful with the access port just underneath my skin?
A: The access port is placed under the skin in the abdominal wall, and once the incisions have healed, it should not cause discomfort or limit any physical exercise. The only sensation you may experience from the port occurs when you go in for adjustments. If you feel persistent discomfort in the port area, let us know as soon as possible.

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Q: Can other people see that I have a port?
A: The port is placed under your skin and is generally not noticeable even if that area of your abdomen is exposed.

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Q: Can the LAP-BAND® System be removed?
A: Although the LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System is not meant to be removed, it can be, in most cases laparoscopically. Surgeons report that the stomach generally returns to its original shape once the LAP-BAND® System is removed. After the removal, though, you may gain more weight.

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Q: Will I need plastic surgery for the surplus skin when I have lost a lot of weight?
A: 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 since the skin will sometimes mold itself around the new body tissue. Give the skin the time it needs to adjust before you decide to have more surgery.

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Q: Is it true that the LAP-BAND® System seems “tighter” in the morning?
A: This is a fairly common feeling, especially for people with a LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System that is too tight or just after an adjustment. During the day, the water content in the body changes and this may cause the LAP-BAND® System to feel “tighter” some of the time. Some women have also noticed that the LAP-BAND® System feels tighter during menstruation.

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Q: Will I feel hungry or deprived with the LAP-BAND® System?
A: The LAP-BAND® System helps you eat less and feel full in two ways—first by reducing the capacity of your stomach, and second, by 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® Adjustable Gastric Banding System is a tool to help you change your eating habits.

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Q: What will happen if I become ill?
A: 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 LAPBAND® System can be loosened by removing saline from it. When you have recovered from your illness and want to lose weight again, the LAP-BAND® System can be tightened by increasing the amount of saline. If the LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System cannot be loosened enough, it may have to be removed.

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Q: What about pregnancy?
A: 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 LAP-BAND® System can be loosened. After pregnancy, the LAP-BAND® System may be made tighter again and you can resume losing weight.

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Q: Will I need to take vitamin supplements?
A: It is recommended that you take a multivitamin supplement daily. It is possible to not get enough vitamins from three small meals a day. At your regular check-ups, we will evaluate whether you are getting enough vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron.

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Q: What about other medication?
A: You should be able to take prescribed medication, though 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. Always ask the doctor who prescribes the drugs about this. You may need to avoid taking aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers because they may irritate the stomach. The problems these drugs may cause could result in LAP-BAND® System removal.

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Q: What if I go out to eat?
A: 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.

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Q: What about alcohol?
A: Alcohol has a high number of calories and breaks down vitamins. An occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage, though, is not considered harmful to weight loss.

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Q: Can I eat anything in moderation?
A: 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, 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® Adjustable Gastric Banding System may be greatly reduced or even cancelled.

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Q: Will I suffer from constipation?
A: 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, your doctor may advise you to take a mild laxative and drink plenty of water for a while. Your needs will vary, but you should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water a day.

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Q: Will insurance pay for my surgery?
A: Most insurance providers cover gastric bypass and the lap band surgery in patients who meet certain criteria. Please check with your provider regarding your coverage. Our office staff can assist you in determining your coverage and eligibility.

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Q: I have type II diabetes, but I am not ‘that obese’. Can I still benefit from bariatric surgery?
A: There is now evidence to support the use of gastric bypass surgery in the treatment of type II diabetes in persons whose BMI fall between 30 and 35. Insurance approval is on a case by case basis.

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Q: How do I prepare for surgery?
A: Deciding that you need surgery for weight loss is the biggest challenge you have overcome. Start with some regular scheduled exercise – start with as little as one minute a day but increase this gradually to 20 to 30 minutes daily. Two weeks prior to surgery, you will be started on a low calorie (800 Kcal) diet – this is designed to make the liver smaller and make the operation smoother.

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Q: How do I gain the most out of bariatric surgery?
A: Follow the nutritional and exercise guidelines. In summary, take small portions, avoid caloric liquids. And do 30 minutes of weight bearing exercise, such as walking, daily.

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Q: How soon can I get my surgery?
A: Most often within one month of completing your preoperative testing and meeting the 6 months physician supervised diet record required by insurance.

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