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Lap-Band Offers Alternative To Gastric Bypass Surgery

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Most people wanting to lose weight choose gastric bypass surgery, where the stomach is reduced to a small pouch. Of about five different types of procedures, gastric bypass has the best track record over the last 15 years. One woman wanted that surgery, but she had to choose a second option.

Amanda Faulk tried everything to lose weight. She finally decided to have gastric bypass surgery. But on the operating table, Dr. Kenneth Mitchell noticed her abdominal organs were not in the usual positions, so he stopped.

"It's awful hard for someone who is anticipating gastric bypass surgery to wake up and you say, 'Sorry, we didn't do it,'" Mitchell said.

Faulk's malrotated organs did not threaten her health, but it added risks to the surgery. Mitchell recommended an alternative procedure called a Lap-Band.

"Most of those patients are younger, professional-type people who dod not have a great deal of weight to lose," Mitchell said.

With Lap-Band, an inflatable ring is placed around the upper part of the stomach creating a small pouch. A syringe of saline injected through a small portal on the skin inflates or deflates the ring. It controls how quickly food passes from the pouch to the lower part of the stomach.

"I've lost right at 100 pounds and it's taken about a year and a half," Faulk said.

The weight comes off slower than for patients with gastric bypass surgery. Faulk said it required greater discipline to exercise and eat right.

"If you can handle that, then the lap band is a great tool to help you lose weight," she said.

Mitchell said Lap-Bands are not typically covered by insurance. It is also pretty costly, ranging from $17,000 to $20,000. Health officials said the mortality rate is between 1 to 2 percent for all obesity surgeries.


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