Signs to Look For When The Lap Band Needs Adjusting

by : Amy Nutt

When a weight loss patient has had Lap Band surgery, the surgery is not the end of it all. In fact, there is a certain degree of maintenance that has to be performed until the patient is scott free and ready to run free with their new self. The reason for this is that it is necessary for the band to be adjusted so that the patient can achieve optimum weight loss while not starving or overfilling themselves. It is more or less up to the patient to determine their "sweet spot" when it comes to Lap Band adjustment.

How the procedure is done

When the Lap Band is put into place, there is an access port that is placed subcutaneously under the skin. When it is time for an adjustment, the band is inflated through the port with such solutions as saline or radiopaque isotonic solution.

Because the port has a membrane, there is a special needle that is used to prevent damage to that membrane. There are also many different variations of the port that can be placed in different positions, depending on what the surgeon prefers.

When the fluid is injected into the port, the Lap Band expands, which puts pressure around the stomach on the outside. What this does is decrease the passage in which food moves through. Over time, the doctor will continue to increase the restriction until the patient feels they have reached a comfort zone. This means they can take in a minimal amount of food and still be comfortable while losing weight effectively.

How long this takes is something that can't be predicted since it can vary from person to person. Each person who has Lap Band surgery receives one of 7 or 8 Lap Bands that are on the market, so how much fluid is needed is going to vary based on that as well.

However, one question that many who are considering Lap Band ask is how they will know if they need an adjustment. This is something that concerns them because they don't want to have the surgery, not know that they need an adjustment, and then cease weight loss at some point. This is something that will not happen, especially if the patient knows what to look for.

Signs that an adjustment is needed

The surgeon is a great resource in knowing whether or not an adjustment is needed. One sure sign that an adjustment is necessary is when the patient is hungry, constantly looking for food, and is not experiencing the optimal amount of weight loss. This is certainly a tell-tale sign that fluid needs to be added to the Lap Band. It is actually an easy sign to recognize as well.

If the patient is feeling full for several hours after eating very little food and there is around one to two pounds of weight loss a week, that means the Lap Band is working great and no adjustment is needed. However, if the patient is losing too much weight, having problems swallowing, experiencing regurgitation, is coughing at night, and has heartburn or acid reflux, that is a sign that the Lap Band needs fluid removed because it is too tight.

When the band is adjusted the way it should be, the patient should feel full after eating a small amount of food. The patient also shouldn't have an issue tolerating most foods.

Before assuming that an adjustment is needed, the patient should make sure that food is being chewed properly or that they are eating too fast. If these two factors are ruled out, then it is time to check with the surgeon for further assistance.