Gastric Sleeve Vs Lap Band: The Difference In Simple Terms

For those looking for surgical weight loss solutions, people who have been unable to lose weight effectively with lifestyle changes, the drive towards surgical interventions is strong. In this article, I'll be explaining the difference between two technologies: The gastric sleeve vs lap band.

Both have their benefits, but are generally used for different types of patients, with their body mass index being a critical factor in which treatment they are eligible for.

The gastric sleeve (known in medical terms as a sleeve gastrectomy) and lap band (aka the adjustable laparoscopic gastric band) are both designed as surgical interventions for the seriously obese patient, when other methods of weight loss have failed.

These weight loss and obesity interventions are quite different, and it is vitally important that you consult with your healthcare professional and reputable clinic before taking the leap.

Lap band surgery and sleeve gastrectomy both work to modify the stomach so that less food can be held. This reduction in available stomach size causes the patient to feel satiated more quickly, thus, over time, resulting in weight loss as energy intake is reduced vs energy expenditure.

The Difference Between Gastric Sleeve And Lap Band

The image below show the very different ways that these two options work.

gastric sleeve vs lapband differences

Image courtesy: Marina Del Rey Hospital

Lap Band Surgery

As you can see, the lap band is a small device that is placed around the stomach, and via inflation or deflation, it cinches off part of the stomach, creating a smaller pouch that will hold less food that the stomach could normally contain. The small port, that is place below the skin is used to manually adjust the device. Saline injections are used for this, you don't need to worry about someone pumping you up with a bicycle pump!!

The good thing about lap bands is that there is no cutting or stapling of the stomach, the band can be removed at any time. It is a less invasive procedure, and is generally considered for patients with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30, but less that BMI 40.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

The more invasive (and permanent) procedure is called the gastric sleeve. This involves a surgeon actually removing a part of the stomach, often a substantial part of it. As you can imagine, this isn't a reversible process.

What remains of the stomach can be likened to a tube or sleeve, hence the name of this procedure.

Recovery time from gastric sleeve surgery will be much lengthier than with a lap band procedure. That said, it is considered an effective and safe procedure, with good long term weight loss benefits.

It is often considered superior in terms of weight loss over the initial 12-18 months, but it's worth remembering that gastric sleeve operations are conducted on people with a lot more weight to lose, which could certainly explain the huge amounts of weight some of these patients shed.

Costs Of Lap Band Vs Gastric Sleeve Surgery

In the United States. the average cost of gastric sleeve surgery is in the region of $15,000. Lap band operations are a little cheaper, at around $14,500.

Eligibility For Gastric Sleeve Or Lap Band

Other than the obvious surgical differences, the profile of the patient is another differentiating factor.

Lap band surgery is recommended by the US FDA as a weight loss solution for people with a BMI of 30 and above. This is defined as 'obese' but many of these patients wouldn't look massively overweight.

Sleeve gastrectomy is generally only considered for those who are much more overweight, with a 'morbidly obese' prognosis, a BMI of more than 40.

There are many contradicting studies, but some have found that the gastric sleeve surgery is also effective for patients with lower BMIs.

Are These Interventions Reversible?

Gastric sleeve surgery is not reversible, as it involves permanent cutting away up to 80% of the stomach. This can never be re-attached, so it's a big decision to go for this procedure, but for some patients, a potential lifesaver.

Because the lap band does not involve removing the stomach, this can be reversed with ease. It should be considered a permanent solution, as removal of the band can result in the weight being regained.

To Conclude:

I hope this has helped you to understand the differences between these two medical weight loss procedures. Here's a useful video that may help you further.

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