Before you have the Gastric LapBand:
1. Search for the Right Doctor for You
Many companies or groups claim to be the Best Experts in LapBand surgery. However, it is important to check the qualifications and experience of your surgeon before making your decision. Find out whether the doctor is a member of any medical organizations and whether they have any experience in bariatric surgery. Make sure to research the company and the Doctor´s credentials, and look into the facilities and medical team. You can also check with the companies that manufacture the lapband products, like Allergan or Johnson & Johnson, to find more recommendations. It is very important to be in the right hands when you have surgery. The experience of your surgeon can make a big difference in your weight loss outcome. Surgery can be life-changing – Don´t play with your health. Look for the right doctor, and not just the cheapest deal.
2. Double-check the Doctor´s Coordinators
Some coordinators will say anything to convince you that their team and services are the best. The personality of the coordinators or the medical team can tell you a lot about the kind of work they do. When talking on the phone, check for signs of aggressiveness, or whether they speak poorly of other bariatric teams or surgeons. If they tell you that they know “everything” about LapBands or bariatric surgery, this is probably not true. Take your time to analyze their ethics and professionalism, and keep your ears and eyes open. Be cautious of coordinators that seem too pushy or don´t respect your requests. These coordinators are not looking out for your best interests – they are just looking for your money. Instead, look for coordinators that demonstrate clear communication and professionalism, honesty, friendliness and a helpful and caring attitude.
3. Avoid companies that are just “moving patients through the border”
Some “coordinators” may contact you to promote weight loss surgery without an actual connection to a qualified bariatric surgeon. They may not even work for the Doctor that they are promoting, and are just looking to make money. They do not have your best interests in mind – you are a merchandize for them. They might make promises that they can´t follow through with, and may get any Doctor for your surgery as long as they get paid for arranging things for you. When researching into the company, find out as much as you can about all the details, including any hidden costs or fees. Be sure that you feel confidant and comfortable with the people that you are working with before you make your final decision.
4. Communicate with other Banded Patients
Often, the best source of information is someone that has already gone through the experience before. You can find out answers by asking other people that have had the lapband procedure. Search for online forums, chat rooms, or message boards. Some questions you might ask could be:
- What kind of surgical weight loss procedure did they receive?
- Was the surgery what they expected?
- How did the Doctor and his medical team treat them?
- Did they have any complications after surgery?
- How long did the surgery process take?
- How have they adjusted to life with the lap band?
- Did they see the results that they were expecting or hoping for?
- How soon did they see results?
- Would they recommend their doctor to someone else looking for the same surgery?
After you have the Gastric LapBand Procedure:
5. Begin the Journey: Develop Good Habits
After LapBand surgery, you will need to make some changes to your diet and activity. Small actions can results in big changes and lead to successful weight loss with your new lapband. Make sure that you learn about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid after your surgery, and determine if you can make these changes. You will also see better results if you include physical activity in your daily routine. If you are always used to driving in the car or riding the bus, try going for a short walk or getting off the bus earlier. If you do walk, try walking faster. Park your car farther away from where you are going so you can get some extra steps into your day. Use any excuse to move your body, like taking the dogs out or doing some gardening. Do anything that will help you to develop new, healthy habits.
6. Your LapBand Expectations
Imagine yourself at the end of the “LapBand Road” and keep Focused on that image. The vast majority of banded patients expect the band to work alone by itself, without changing any of their old habits. But the truth is that you do need to put a lot of energy into yourself and encourage yourself to improve your eating habits and activities in order to each your weight loss goals. The LapBand is a tool to help you, but it won’t do the job alone. For the best results, you need to be committed to positive change.
7. Find the optimum LapBand Fill
My advice is to reach a “fill point” where you can keep enjoying the foods you like, while still being able to lose or maintain your weight. Too much tightness or restriction will have you at the border line for being de-banded, and stomach erosion can happen frequently in patients with large fills. Do not compete with the LapBand by trying to force food to pass through the band. If you feel excessive restriction, visit your doctor to have your band adjusted.
8. Maintain Good Communication with your Doctor
This is the most important of the 10 “keys for success.” Make sure you can reach your Doctor whenever you need him or her. The Bariatric Surgeons and Doctors are different than General Surgeons in the follow-up care.
Don’t hesitate to call your Doctor if you have any of the following symptoms: Heartburn, pain at the port area or in the abdomen, frequent vomiting, difficulty swallowing or reflux.
9. Have a Barium Swallow or an Endoscopy atleast once a year
This can help to indicate the condition of your stomach, esophagus, and the lapband system, including the positioning of the band and port. This may also help to detect any problems earlier, which can allow for more time to solve the problem.
10. Have your LapBand Fills done under Fluoroscopy as often as possible
Office fills do not detect early, easily-correctable problems until it may be too late. Slippage and erosion are more frequently seen in patients that have never had follow-ups under fluoroscopy. Check with your Doctor to find out their process for lapband fills – if they only do office fills, ask your Doctor to recommend someone that can provide fills under fluoroscopy for you.
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