To understand how the Lap-Band works, I want to address “restriction.” The Lap-Band wasn’t designed to help you lose weight through restriction. The purpose of the Lap-Band is to help weight loss surgery patients lose weight by suppressing the appetite. The Lap-Band cannot keep you from eating too much, but you will likely feel very ill if you do each too much.
With appetite suppression, you’ll find yourself much less interested in eating between meals. Feeling full will keep you from over indulging and over eating. The goal of the Lap-Band is to make you less interested in food, basically.
Never eat until you feel full. Doing so will likely lead to you feeling overstuffed. To be successful with the Lap-Band, you want to eat a small volume of food. I encourage my Lap-Band patients to measure their food. Never guess or “eye ball” the amount. Successful Lap-Band patients feel less full between meals, and measure what they do eat so that they do not over do it.
When we place the Lap-Band on a patient the stomach above the Lap-Band will hold 1 to 2 ounces. As you eat, the food ends up in the small pouch, and meets some resistance. After a Lap-Band fill, the resistance can feel pronounced, but it is not permanent. It does make it challenging to eat more because the top of the stomach and the Lap-Band will resist it. Over eating will feel uncomfortable.
Initially, you will feel full with less and have less appetite. This is what weight loss surgeons call “the honeymoon phase.” You’ll eat small amounts of food and feel very satisfied, and you’ll be losing weight at the same time. The danger of this is that patients who rely on that sensation to monitor their eating habits will find that it will take increasing volumes of food to obtain this sensation. The initial response is to have their Lap-Band adjusted so that they can “feel full again.”
Relying on the feeling of being full has two results: the stomach stretches to accommodate more food. The second issue is that getting to the point of “feeling full” takes more time. Your stomach could be full, but your brain will not necessarily register. This causes over eating and the pouch to dilate. As With chronic over-eating the pouch will accommodate more and more food. The stomach wall is thinner, it is easier to stretch, and to get that sensation it takes more food than at first.
For weight loss surgery patients who are consistent about monitoring the volume of food they eat, they end up having very positive results from the Lap-Band. Eventually, the brain will recognize that you feel satisfied with smaller amounts of food. And this, along with healthy lifestyle changes, will allow the Lap-Band to be an effective weight loss tool.