Despite the fact that the term lap band is usually used nowadays when talking about gastric band surgery, LAP-BAND® is in reality the registered trade-mark for only one form of gastric band manufactured by a US company and approved in 2001 by the FDA to be used in the United States.
Gastric band surgery, which is a form of purely restrictive weight loss surgery (meaning that it works solely by restricting the amount of food which can be eaten), includes both adjustable gastric banding and vertical banded gastroplasty. However, in the case of lap band surgery we are looking only at adjustable gastric banding.
Lap band surgery makes use of a silicone ring with an inflatable inner lining that is designed to be placed around the upper section of the stomach. This band is then connected by a length of tubing to an access port that is positioned just under the skin during surgery.
The placement of the inflatable band high up on the stomach produces a small pocket at the head of the stomach to hold food, with the bulk of the stomach remaining below the band. The placement of the band also creates a very small opening between the two sections of the divided and the diameter of this opening can be controlled by adding liquid (usually saline) into, or removing liquid from, the inflatable inner ring of the silicone band through the access port.
During lap band weight loss surhery the inner band is usually given only a very slight inflation to produce a relatively large opening between the two portions of stomach. Despite the fact that the term relative has been used here it ought to be said that the new small stomach pocket and the opening between the two sections of the stomach are in fact both very small.
In the weeks immediately after this form of surgery, the inner ring is gradually inflated until the point at which weight loss is maximized and the patient is happy with the size and frequency of meals that she is able to eat.
Restrictive morbid obesity surgery is frequently easier to perform than other procedures and lap band weight loss surgery is usually done laparoscopically resulting in a quite short hospital stay and a usually rapid post-operative recovery. This form of surgery also avoids most of the nutritional problems that are seen in malabsorption surgery (gastric bypass surgery which re-routes food through part of the small intestine). Finally, lap band weight loss surgery is wholly reversible and the removal of the inflatable band will result in the stomach returning to its usual size.