Gastric Lap Band
Gastric Bypass

If you're thinking about having weight loss surgery and are trying to decide on gastric lap band vs gastric bypass, consider the following points:

Gastric Lap Band vs Gastric Bypass: A Comparison of the Procedures

Gastric lap band surgery is a "simpler" surgery than gastric bypass. Stomach banding involves placing an inflatable band around the stomach like a belt in order to restrict the amount of food you can eat. No change in anatomy is performed!

Gastric band surgery is usually performed laparoscopically and is a fairly simple procedure from a surgeon's perspective and post-op recovery times are usually pretty fast.

However, it involves having a foreign object implanted in your body that will stay there for the rest of your life...unless of course, you choose to have it taken out. This surgery IS reversible.

Gastric bypass (also called Roux-en-Y) involves first making the stomach smaller (usually by stapling) and then cutting and "re-routing" the small intestine. The result is that you can't eat as much and you absorb fewer nutrients and calories from your food.

Roux-en-Y is a pretty major surgery although it can be performed as an open surgery or laparoscopically. It involves more healing time than stomach banding and is considered permanent.

Gastric Lap Band vs Gastric Bypass: Your Risk of Dying

Yes, it's scary to talk about, but weight loss surgery is SURGERY, and isn't without risk...

...and unfortunately that includes the risk of dying.

Small as the risk is, it's worth noting and talking about with your surgeon. It's not a bad idea to find out how many deaths YOUR surgeon has experienced in his/her bariatric practice.

Gastric bypass, being a more complicated surgery, naturally has a higher mortality rate than gastric banding weight loss surgery does: 0.50% vs. 0.05%

Gastric bypass also carries a higher risk of early complications: 25.5% vs. 1.5% after gastric banding surgery.

Gastric Lap Band vs Gastric Bypass: Comparison of Short Term Weight Loss (1 year after surgery)

  • Gastric Band: 42% average excess weight loss
  • Gastric Bypass: 67% average excess weight loss

Gastric Lap Band vs Gastric Bypass: Comparison of Long Term Weight Loss (5 years after surgery)

  • Gastric Band: 55% average excess weight loss
  • Gastric Bypass: 58% average excess weight loss

What this means...

...Excess weight loss achieved with gastric band surgery is comparable to that achieved with gastric bypass over time.

Gastric band weight loss is slower in the beginning, but will reach amounts of weight loss similar to those achieved with Roux-en-Y in 3-5 years.

Gastric Lap Band vs Gastric Bypass: Nutrient Deficiencies

The portion of the small intestine that's bypassed in gastric bypass surgery is responsible for absorption of important nutrients such as calcium, iron and B12.

Without proper amounts of these nutrients, health can fail in other ways (anemia, osteoporosis, etc.) You don't want to get rid of one health problem (excess weight) for a new one (like osteoporosis)!

Lifelong vitamin/mineral supplementation is therefore necessary with a Roux-en-Y procedure as well as lifelong follow up with your doctor in order to have your blood levels regularly monitored.

Nutrient deficiencies are not as likely with gastric band surgery, but they're certainly possible due to a lower food intake.

Iron and B vitamin deficiencies are commonly reported in gastric band patients. Poor bone health is also a risk if you don't get adequate amounts of calcium. That's why I'm a proponent of taking lifelong Lap Band vitamins too!

Gastric Lap Band vs Gastric Bypass: Potential Long Term Post-Surgical Complications

Gastric Band: band slippage, reflux, nausea, vomiting, stoma obstruction (The stoma is the narrow passage created by the band that separates the upper and lower portions of the stomach).

The good news is that you can avoid most of these complications by following the gastric band diet properly! Even band slippage is possible to prevent if you avoid chronic vomiting by choosing the proper amounts of food and chewing thoroughly.

Gastric bypass: bowel obstruction, nutrient deficiencies (iron, vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium), marginal ulcer, hernia, dumping syndrome.

By eating properly, you can prevent some of these complications as well, such as nutrient deficiencies and dumping syndrome.

In my experience...

...I've had patients tell me they wanted to have gastric bypass over gastric banding because of the potential for dumping syndrome. These self described "sugar addicts" felt like the negative consequence of experiencing dumping syndrome would be the only thing to break them of their sugar addiction.

You know yourself better than anyone and ultimately YOU are the only one who can decide whether gastric lap band vs gastric bypass is best for you...

...and if weight loss surgery is even right for you.

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