LAP-BAND® Fill
All About Gastric Band Adjustment

What is a LAP-BAND® Fill?

The gastric band is an adjustable band that's placed around the upper portion of the stomach to help reduce how much you eat. It can be made tighter or looser by injecting or withdrawing sterile saline from an access port that's connected to the stomach band.

The access port is implanted beneath the skin of your abdomen during the gastric banding procedure and will stay there for life, along with the gastric band.

lap band inside stomach view

The process of adding saline to the band to make it tighter is generally referred to as a gastric band fill or a gastric band adjustment. However, a gastric band adjustment may also involve removing saline from the stomach band if it's too tight.

lap band fill

Life After LAP-BAND® Surgery:
When do I get my first LAP-BAND® fill?

The gastric band is usually implanted empty. That is, there is no saline in the stomach band to start. This gives your body a chance to get accustomed to the band and to heal. Any "restriction" you feel after a gastric banding procedure is due to the band itself and the swelling of the tissues around it.

Approximately 4-6 weeks after your gastric band operation (exact times vary), your weight loss will slow or plateau and you'll be ready to have the stomach band tightened up a bit...

...that is, you'll be ready for your first gastric band fill.

What does the process of getting a gastric band adjustment involve?

You'll either go to your bariatric surgeon's office or a local hospital where your surgeon or a trained clinician will inject sterile saline into the port in order to tighten the stomach band.

The port is accessed in one of two ways:

  • Palpation (simply pressing down on the skin to locate the access port)
  • X-ray (fluoroscopy)

The whole process is about as painful as giving blood...

...You'll only feel a slight needle prick as the surgeon injects the port with a fine needle!

Watch a live lap band fill.

Important: Only a trained clinician should administer your gastric band fills. Never let an untrained person do it and never try to to adjust your own stomach band!

How will my eating change after a LAP-BAND® fill?

You'll follow a liquid diet and work your way back to eating solids after having a gastric band adjustment. However, the diet progression is much faster after a gastric band fill than it is after the gastric band operation. You should be able to progress from drinking liquids all the way back to eating solids in 3-7 days. Follow your bariatric clinic's guidelines.

Refresh yourself on the post-op lap band diet.

How many cc's of saline are added in a gastric band fill?

Everyone is different and the exact amount of fluid required to tighten the stomach band enough (but not too much) is unique.

Tighter isn't necessarily better! Indicators that you may be "over-adjusted" include:

  • Difficulty swallowing food or saliva
  • Regurgitation
  • Waking up at night coughing or vomiting
  • Frequent reflux/heartburn

You and your bariatric surgeon will go through what I call a "Goldilocks" period, where you'll add fluid and the gastric band will be too tight and you'll remove fluid and it's too loose. You'll eventually uncover the "sweet spot" where you figure how many cc's make it just right.

When a gastric band adjustment is "just right," the stomach band:

  • is tight enough to reduce the overall amount you eat
  • is loose enough to let you eat solid foods and have them "go down" without difficulty
  • lets you eat enough to get the nutrients you need and not feel hungry between meals
  • lets you gradually lose weight

How many LAP-BAND® fills do I need to have?

Of course this is individual, but during the first year, most patients get between five and eight gastric band adjustments in the process of trying to find the amount of fill that's "just right."

Sometimes, small adjustments are made over the years.

How long does a LAP-BAND® fill take?

A gastric band adjustment generally only takes ~ 15 minutes.

Do I have to pay for every LAP-BAND® fill?

This is an excellent question to ask your bariatric surgeon before you have gastric band surgery! Find out:

  • Are your gastric band fills covered for the first year only?
  • If so, how much will each one cost after that?
  • What will happen if your surgeon stops accepting your insurance? Will you then have to pay for gastric band adjustments out of your own pocket?

(If you're thinking about getting weight loss surgery in Mexico factor in the cost of flying back and forth to Mexico to get your LAP-BAND® fills! It might be difficult to find a surgeon in your city who's willing to take on your case and manage fills for a surgery done in Mexico.)

Regular follow up visits with your bariatric surgeon so he/she can properly adjust your stomach band are key to achieving success with the gastric banding procedure!

More About Gastric Banding Surgery

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