Lap-Band is still a great choice – it isn’t dead, and worth considering

The Lap-Band remains a great choice for weight loss. Here is why:

(a) It is an outpatient procedure
(b) It is the safest of all weight loss procedures
(c) It doesn’t remove bits of stomach
(d) You can always take it out if you don’t tolerate it
(e) It can last a lifetime

You may have heard that “no one” does the Lap-Band anymore. Or that you have a friend who had a “Lap-Band” and they didn’t do well so they said that the “Lap-Band failed.” Or heard some weight loss surgeon say that they “take out more Lap-Bands” than they put back in. So I want to address each of those and then answer any questions you might have.

The Lap-Band Failed

The band didn’t fail, if someone regains weight it isn’t the fault of the device. The Lap-Band is a tool, and like any tool you have to use it. If your friend ate junk, it doesn’t matter what weight loss operation they had – they will regain weight. The band works well as a tool, but it won’t tell you when to stop eating or what food you should eat. That is your job. You are an adult, the band will reinforce good choices, but it won’t make those for you. The Lap-Band is a great operation for an adult, not for someone who wants their operation to make their choices. You remember when you were a teenager and your parents made your choices? What happened when you made your choices? Same with the band – if you want an operation to make your choices then the band isn’t for you. Neither, by the way, are any other operation. What is for you is a need to grow up.

Surgeon says they take out more Lap-Bands than they put in
About five years ago the maker of the Lap-Band took a whole bunch of surgeons off their registry. These surgeons didn’t support the band – they didn’t see patients regularly for adjustments or care. That was a good move. The only person you want placing your band is someone who has a practice that is dedicated to supporting the band. That was not the case. When you read of surgeons who only see patients every four months after the band it is a recipe for failure.
One well-known weight loss surgeon bragged that because of the downturn in bariatric procedures his practice was kept alive by taking out lap-bands and converting people to other operations. Sometimes a band can “slip” – although it really doesn’t slip, but that is another story. That can be fixed, the band doesn’t have to be removed. But surgeons make more by removing the band and converting to another operation.

There are a number of dedicated Lap-Band practices. With surgeons who support the band and will help you learn to live with your band and lose weight. But if the band isn’t for you, if it doesn’t work – it can be converted to another operation.

Compare the Lap-Band to other weight loss procedures:

Compared to the gastric balloon — these are only meant to be in the stomach for six months. The Lap-Band will suppress appetite for your lifetime.

Compared to Prescription drugs – these are not meant to be a permanent solution, but they are temporary. The band will be there and suppress appetite on a permanent basis.

Compared to HCG. HCG, and RM3 have been shown, in great studies, to not work. The band has been shown to work.

Compared to other operations for weight loss. It is the only FDA approved for low BMI patients (those with less than 100 pounds to lose). It is safer and in the hands of a Lap-Band practice that will dedicate time and resources, the band works well. The band can always be adjusted, once you have had your other weight loss operation you are done.

Want proof? Consider Jineane Ford – who had her band placed in 2006 and still looks great years later. Former Ms USA, and former television anchor, she tried every diet and exercise program and only the Lap-Band has helped her keep off her weight and get off blood pressure medications.

before after lapband photos


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Farewell to True Results

They were my competition for a number of years, and they have closed their doors in Phoenix and Scottsdale.  True-Results was a company out of Texas, whose name was Advanced Institute for Gastric Banding (AIGB).

Former True Results patients, please note: If you’re utilizing insurance benefits, you must provide the copy of your original Op Report and the original authorization from the insurance company or services will be considered self-pay.

They leave a lot of people who were banded by them, and so we have offered to take those patients in under our wing. We will adjust their bands, take care of their issues, and provide service for them.

I was to be True Results surgeon in Phoenix, and had many talks with their CEO about it – going down to Texas in an all-but-done deal.  They were going to open offices in Phoenix/Scottsdale, and I spent hours with them finding office space, looking for places to build a surgery center.  When I decided that I could not be their surgeon they grabbed a guy who was working in my office, someone I had proctored and trained for the Lap-Band. Seemed a bit underhanded, in a Texas sort of way, but he and I remained friends and collegial throughout.

We were always friendly competition, and we even looked to do things together again in 2010 – but it just wasn’t a good fit.  I still liked the people in charge of it, and many of the surgeons with them are good friends to this day.

What I liked about True Results is they advertised heavily, making people aware of the Lap-Band, which remains a great surgical option for people.  But the Band became less popular, and they started to offer gastric sleeve surgery (something I have been doing longer than the band) and ultimately they couldn’t sustain their business.

So if you know someone who was banded by them and needs a home to go to, we are happy to see them and help them. Some will need minor adjustments.  Some will need to get back-on-track. Some will wish to have their band out and some will wish to convert to a gastric sleeve.

Our model is different than a corporate model.  Simple: we think people should learn what and how to eat, and not some strange diet either.


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The Gastric Balloon vs the Lap-Band

obalon versus lap-bandThe gastric balloon is back – after more than thirty years in exile. Here it is the promise of having a balloon in for a few months, lose weight – remove the balloon and there you go. Minimal risk and weight loss – at least that’s what the companies want you to believe. It was taken off the market because there were so many complications years ago- did those complications leave? Well, we don’t know yet. Probably not. There are currently two balloons approved in the United States. In other countries there are others (so it is a matter of time before they come here).

So let us do a few comparisons:

The gastric balloon – NOT COVERED BY INSURANCE. Cost $7500 (give or take).
The Lap-Band – is covered by most insurance. If not the cost is $10,000 (give or take).

The gastric balloon – Must be removed by endoscopy in six months. That’s it- you get six months of weight loss and then the balloon must come out.
The Lap-Band – is built to last a lifetime, can be removed if needed. So you have something inside that will help you make better choices and lose weight for as long as you need it.

The gastric balloon – for BMI between 30 and 40 willing to follow a diet.
The Lap-Band – FDA approved BMI 30 and above. And, as with all weight loss operations – change how and what you eat. Not a diet.

The gastric balloon – you return to your normal eating and if you return to your normal eating and the quantities the odds are you will regain your weight.

The Lap-Band – changes your set point for what you eat. You can eat less and not be as hungry – for more than six months.

The Lap-Band remains a great tool for weight loss, suppresses appetite, and it can stay in for your lifetime.  Providing you with a tool to lose weight and keep it off.

Better yet let’s compare the balloon to vegetables and legumes

The gastric balloon – $7500 for six months.
One cup of vegetables or legumes – $200 for six months

Nutritional value of the balloon – none
Nutritional value of vegetables and legumes: reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer by 25%.

You can take vegetables and legumes for the rest of your life and improve your health. You will be eating better.

The week before two of my colleagues were removing balloons that had been placed the week before. Their comment, “I am never putting these in again.” The patients could not tolerate the balloon and had them explanted- the patient still paid them $7500. The next week those colleagues were on the next great balloon’s website. I asked them why, their comment, “it is for marketing, people will come in asking for that and we will tell them about real operations.” Another colleague in California related a similar issue, with gastric balloons:  75% of patients want the balloon out in the first three days. Three days of nausea for $7500. He does tell me that one is better tolerated than another.

The same week another weight loss surgeon from California was telling me about a gastric balloon that caused a part of the stomach to die and the patient was doing poorly. That did lead to an FDA release.

My answer: if you want a balloon, do yourself a favor. Eat an equivalent amount of fruit or vegetables before each meal. You will be healthier, you will feel better, and you won’t have to pay me $7500. If you have real obesity – then you need a real operation that will last you and help you.  If you have a BMI of 35 or greater you don’t need a balloon – you may need a band. Or a gastric sleeve.

For a brief period of time I thought about having the balloon in me. Great marketing, eh? Then I went to spend a weekend at the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine workshop. A week of cooking healthy foods. I am not going to get a balloon, but I will be eating more vegetables and legumes. I will tell you, in two weeks, down two pounds – and I am not hungry or suffer from nausea.

So if you come to me, for a gastric balloon, I will spend time telling you how to change some things in your diet. You won’t pay me much for that advice, and I would make a lot more if you paid me to install a gastric balloon. But it will be better for you to learn what and how to eat.

That is my mission: teaching people what to eat – not from a fad diet, but from evidence based medicine.


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