Popular Lap-Band Surgery May Pose More Risks Than Benefits
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved the wider use of Allergan’s Lap-Band device to people who are just barely obese and also have a health problem related to obesity. This move opens the door for an estimated 26 million Americans to receive the popular Lap-Band surgery.
Lap-Band surgery involves placing a silicone band around the top of the stomach to restrict food intake, without any stomach cutting or stapling.
With nearly 34 percent of Americans falling into the obesity category and nearly six percent weighing in at extremely obese, the lowered weight requirement may have seemed like a blessing to some until a new study leaves us questioning if the benefits of surgery are really worth the risk.
After following 151 patients for at least 12 years, Belgian researchers from Saint Pierre University Hospital in Brussels found that as many as half their patients needed to have their band removed or, in others, the band had made its way through the stomach wall.
According to the study, six in ten patients overall found themselves on the operating table again and four in ten suffered a major complication of the surgery.
However, despite the complications, patients in the study lost about 43 percent of their original excess weight after receiving the surgery and 60 percent of patients in the study said they were pleased or very pleased with the results.
It’s safe to predict that these numbers will cast a shadow of doubt among Americans considering Lap-Band surgery as a safe and effective treatment for obesity however even the researchers have acknowledged that the restriction to a single institution and the fact that laparoscopic banding was brand-new technology 12 years ago leads to several limitations of their analysis.
“In some ways it is a bit of a historic snapshot of this type of surgery 15 years ago,” cautioned Dr. Marc P. Michalsky, surgical director for the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio to Reuters reporters. “I would take these results with a grain of salt.”
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, more than 220,000 Americans had a type of weight loss surgery in 2009. The cost of surgery was about $20,000 per patient.