Frequently Asked Questions

Read the answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions we have received on specific topics. Please call us toll free at 713.464.BAND (2263) with your questions, and we will be happy to provide you with answers as soon as possible. Below, you will find answers on:

The LAP-BAND System:

How is the LAP-BAND® different from gastric bypass surgery?

The LAP-BAND® is a silicone band that is placed around the stomach, creating a small upper stomach pouch that prevents a patient from eating excessively. It is only a restrictive device (not a malabsorptive one), and can be adjusted and/or removed, if necessary. The procedure to place the band is done laparoscopically on an outpatient basis, so our patients go home the same day as surgery in most cases. Recovery is relatively quick - with patients returning to work and/or most normal activities within 4-5 days. It is currently the least invasive form of bariatric surgery, with a relatively low complication rate compared to alternate obesity surgeries. (Read more about the LAP-BAND® procedure) Gastric bypass surgery involves permanently changing the shape of the stomach by surgically reducing (cutting or stapling) its size to an egg-sized pouch, and then bypassing a portion of the digestive tract with the new smaller stomach. This type of surgery has both a restrictive and a malabsorptive effect, and unlike the LAP-BAND®, it is essentially irreversible. Generally, gastric bypass patients stay in the hospital 3-4 days following surgery, and recovery takes approximately 2-4 weeks. Due to the nature of the procedure, gastric bypass surgery has a higher rate of severe complications following surgery and a significant mortality rate. (Read more about gastric bypass surgery). Back to top

What is the difference between the LAP-BAND® and the Swedish Band?

Both the LAP-BAND® and the Swedish Band are "Adjustable Gastric Banding" devices and function essentially in the same manner. We use the LAP-BAND® Adjustable Gastric Banding System because it has been approved by the FDA for use in the United States (June 2001).

How overweight do I need to be to consider the LAP-BAND®?

You should be at least 60-100 pounds overweight to consider the LAP-BAND® System. A better measure for determining your eligibility, however, is your BMI (Body Mass Index), a calculation based on your height and weight (Click here to calculate your BMI) The LAP-BAND® is generally recommended for patients with a BMI of 30-60.

Is the LAP-BAND® permanent?

No - although it is not meant to be removed, one of the unique characteristics of the LAP-BAND® is that it can be removed surgically in a manner very similar to how it was inserted (laparoscopically, using a few small incisions). Surgeons report that the stomach generally returns to its original shape once the band is removed. After the removal, though, you may go back to your original weight.

Is the LAP-BAND® surgery safe?

Yes. The LAP-BAND® procedure is considered the least invasive bariatric surgery available - offering fewer complications, less pain, less scarring, and a quicker recovery than any other form of obesity surgery. However, you should discuss this directly with your surgeon.

Is this surgery performed using minimally invasive surgical techniques?

The LAP-BAND® procedure is performed laparoscopically. The cameras and instruments our surgeon uses offer superior visibility and access for precise dissection of tissues and associated blood vessels. The operation is completed in a relatively short period of time (approximately 1 hour) and with minimal blood loss. The benefits of using these minimally invasive methods are that patients experience less pain, easier breathing, minimal scarring and a quicker recovery. However, any operation is only as safe as the surgeon performing it, and complications can occur whether the procedure is done "open" or laparoscopically.

How many times have your surgeons performed the LAP-BAND® procedure?

Our surgeons are very experienced laparoscopic surgeons. They have performed thousands of laparoscopic procedures, hundreds of LAP-BAND® procedures and are all FDA-approved for LAP-BAND® surgery.

What is the average excess weight loss and improvement of related health conditions for patients?

On average, LAP-BAND® patients have lost about 50% of their excess weight within the first year after surgery. Most of patients' associated medical problems, such as diabetes, sleep apnea, arthropathy, or high blood pressure, have improved or disappeared completely after their LAP-BAND® procedure. Potential results and weight loss expectations can be discussed in further detail with you during your initial consultation.

Do you have patients who are willing to share their LAP-BAND® surgery experiences, both positive and negative?

Yes, we encourage you to come to one of our FREE Informational Seminars where you will be able to ask other LAP-BAND® patients questions about their experience with the surgery and our program, or we can provide you with some names and phone numbers of patients who would be willing to talk to you about their surgery.

Where can I find additional information on obesity, bariatric surgery and the LAP-BAND® procedure?

Take a look at our page of "Useful Links" which provides a list of Websites related to these topics - we think you will find the list helpful in starting your research. There are a lot of additional resources available on the Internet - you just need to start looking and "searching."

What type of post-surgery support do you provide for me?

Our staff is committed to providing our patients support before, during and after their LAP-BAND® surgery. Following surgery, our surgeon will work with you to create a post-operative diet and exercise program designed to help you achieve the healthiest weight loss possible. We will also have you come to our office for follow-up appointments several times during the first year after surgery and annually thereafter. In addition, we offer our patients the opportunity to participate in post-surgery support groups and counseling.

What is expected of me if I decide to choose the LAP-BAND® as a surgical solution?

We expect that you will comply with each step of our program including the pre-operative testing requirements, pre/post-operative diet and exercise programs, band adjustments (as necessary) and follow-up medical appointments.

Will my insurance pay for the LAP-BAND®?

About 50% of insurance plans will cover the LAP-BAND® procedure with a Letter of Medical Necessity from our surgeon. However, you should check with your health plan beforehand to find out if you are covered. Please read detailed information on the insurance coverage process under "Insurance Information". If your plan does not cover the LAP-BAND® surgery, we will be happy to discuss with you the more convenient "Self-Pay" option and the financing programs available to help you manage the costs. Remember that even if you pursue the self-pay option initially, you can still apply for insurance coverage / reimbursement after you have had the surgery.

I am interested in having the LAP-BAND® surgery, how do I learn more and start the process to see if I qualify?

Please call (713) 464-BAND (2263) for an appointment

Pre-Operative Testing, Preparation & Procedure:

What are the steps I need to take prior to having LAP-BAND® surgery?

The first step is submit a completed Registration Form to us ,then a member of our staff will contact you to schedule a surgical consultation. If you are approved for surgery after your initial consultation, you will need to complete various pre-operative testing requirements. Once the results of all of the testing has been evaluated and medically cleared by the physician, your surgery date will be scheduled. Please note that the timing for the completion of these steps and the scheduling of surgery varies from patient to patient based on whether or not you are paying for the operation yourself (approximately 2 weeks) or seeking insurance coverage for the procedure (generally 6-8 weeks). To read about these steps in greater detail, please see our Patient Steps form.

What pre-operative tests maybe required?

We may require that you complete the following tests prior to surgery:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Electrocardiograph (EKG)
  • Upper GI

Do I have to follow a special pre-operative diet?

Our surgeon requires that you follow a no fat, liquid diet for 7 days before your surgery. The purpose of this liquid diet is to decrease the size of your liver, which in turn will make the placement of your LAP-BAND® safer.

Surgery & Recovery

Where will my LAP-BAND® procedure be performed?

Your LAP-BAND® surgery will be performed in a state-of-the-art facility that performs the LAP-BAND® surgery. All locations require no hospital stay. There are many locations in the Houston area that your procedure can be performed.

Where will my LAP-BAND® procedure be performed if I have an HMO policy or if my insurance requires me to be at an in-network facility?

Surgeries will be performed at a hospital that is in-network with your insurance policy. These are state-of-the-art facilities with medical staff members who are extremely experienced in bariatric surgery. Most are also conveniently contracted with most insurance carriers. Whether you have a PPO or an HMO policy, we will be able to serve you in-network with one of the most experienced hospital staff in the Texas.

On the day of my surgery, how much time beforehand do I need to arrive?

You will receive a phone call from a staff nurse the day before your surgery to review last minute pre-operative instructions with you and confirm your arrival time the day of surgery. Generally, we ask that our patients arrive at the Surgery Center 1 ½ hours prior to surgery.

Does the Surgery Center have gowns, beds and other equipment large enough to accommodate me?

Yes, we has made a sincere commitment to our patients and made sure that everything in our surgery center accommodates your special requirements. As a result, we have customized beds, gowns, wheelchairs, operating room equipment and x-ray equipment designed expressly for obese patients. Furthermore, our nursing staff is fully trained to address the needs of overweight patients.

Are the anesthesiologists experienced with the unique needs of obese patients?

Absolutely! In keeping with our commitment to the highest quality care, our surgery center only uses Board Certified anesthesiologists in the operating room, all of whom are experienced in treating obese patints - never CNRAs / nurse anesthetists.

How long will I be in surgery?

Your operation will range anywhere from 30-45 minutes.

Do you remove the gallbladder during surgery?

No, we do not remove the gallbladder on a routine basis unless we conduct a gallbladder ultrasound and it indicates otherwise. Your surgeon will discuss this with you further during your consultation.

How long will I be in recovery following my surgery?

Following surgery, patients are monitored in a recovery room for approximately 3 to 6 hours before being discharged from the Surgical Center. Recovery times vary depending upon the individual patient.

Will I have respiratory therapy?

Yes, following surgery you will be asked to breathe in a tube every hour (incentive spirometry) until you are discharged.

Am I required to stay at the Surgery Center until I have a bowel movement?


How soon and how often can I walk after my operation?

We encourage patients to walk as soon and as much as possible after their surgery.

How long will I need to stay at the Center following my surgery?

As the LAP-BAND® surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, almost all patients are released the same day as their surgery.

Will I feel much pain after the procedure?

Patients are given pain medication for use at home following surgery. Most individuals experience only mild discomfort, which is generally relieved by the pain medicine.

What types of pain management will you provide after surgery?

Generally we use liquid Vicodin® or Tylenol for our patients. We offer alternatives for those who are allergic to these pain particular medications.

How soon after surgery will I be allowed to drink water?

You will be able to drink water the same day as your surgery.

How long will I need to take off of work after my LAP-BAND® surgery?

Usually about 4-5 days. Most patients feel some fatigue and weakness for 3-5 days but are able to return to normal functions after about 5-7 days. If you do manual labor, you may wish to stay off of work a little longer.

Diet, Nutrition & Exercise:

Will I need to follow a post-operative diet after surgery? If so, for how long?

We will provide you with a post-operative diet and meal plan to follow for four weeks after your LAP-BAND® surgery. The diet will help decrease the initial irritation and inflammation around the stomach and allow your band to "settle" into place. At first, you will have only liquids in small amounts. Gradually, you will progress from liquids to soft foods, eventually introducing solid foods back into your diet. The transition to solids is slow and varies among patients. Eating must be done slowly and should be stopped when you feel full. Only small portions at intervals throughout the day are recommended. Eating too much at one sitting can cause discomfort and/or vomiting. Our surgeon will meet with you before and after the surgery to discuss the specific post-operative dietary restrictions and recommendations in greater detail.

Will my eating habits change after surgery?

Yes, your eating habits will change following LAP-BAND® surgery. You will find that you become full or satisfied after consuming a much smaller portion of food than you did prior to surgery. It is important that you stop eating once you feel full, as overeating can trigger pain and/or nausea. In addition, we recommend that you eat slowly and chew your food carefully.

Are there any specific foods or beverages that I should not eat post-operatively?

Before and after surgery, our nutritionist will review with you in detail the post-operative diet you should follow as well as additional dietary recommendations and restrictions, including: Food: LAP-BAND® patients should NOT eat any dried fruits, as they can swell in the stomach pouch and become stuck. It is also recommended that patients avoid "fibrous" foods after surgery as they can also get lodged in the small opening of the stomach pouch. Such foods include, but are not limited to: asparagus, pineapple, rhubarb, corn (especially popcorn) and grapes. Furthermore, nuts and seeds (walnuts, whole peanuts, almonds) appear to be hard to digest for many patients. (Note: in general, LAP-BAND® patients improve their digestion if they learn to chew their food well, particularly meats.) Beverages: Most liquids are fine, but patients should try to avoid carbonated beverages as they can cause distension of the stomach pouch. In addition, patients can help avoid feeling nauseated during the first 6 weeks post-operatively if they avoid acidic juices (e.g., orange, grapefruit, lemon). Otherwise, we recommend you eat a wide variety of foods and drink ten glasses of water every day.

How many grams of protein should I consume post-operatively?

You should consume approximately 20-35 grams a day. (Gastric bypass patients need more protein to promote healing from the major surgery.)

What nutritional supplements will I need to take post-operatively?

We recommend that our patients take a multivitamin with iron every day. In addition, we suggest that our female patients also take a daily calcium supplement. Because the LAP-BAND® procedure is not a malabsorptive one, you should enjoy the full nutritional benefits of the food that you eat post-surgery. The volume of the food you eat will decrease, however, so you will need to be sure to follow a nutritionally balanced meal plan.

Will I get sick from eating sugar, natural or otherwise?

There are no problems with "dumping syndrome" after the LAP-BAND® procedure because your stomach and intestines have not been bypassed or significantly altered. Gastric bypass patients, on the other hand, are instructed to avoid refined sugar, which can cause dumping: an unpleasant experience which can include sudden rapid heart rate, abdominal pain, cramps, sweating and diarrhea.

Will I be able to drink alcohol after surgery?

Alcohol has a high number of calories and it breaks down vitamins. But an occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage is not considered harmful to weight loss.

What type of exercise do you recommend post-operatively?

Walking is great exercise to start out with following your surgery. After 6 weeks you may do any exercise you would like - aerobics, bicycling, running, strength conditioning, etc. Exercise is an important part of your post-surgery regimen, as it will facilitate weight loss and contribute to your overall health and well-being.

Post-Operative Results, Adjustments & Follow-Up Care

How much weight should I expect to lose and how fast?

The amount of weight you lose and the rate at which you lose it is dependent on a number of factors in addition to the LAP-BAND® itself such as: your starting weight, your post-operative diet, the amount of exercise you do, etc. On average, however, patients have lost about 50% of their excess weight within the first year of surgery. Most patients find they are losing between 5-10 pounds a month, depending on their individual diet and exercise regimens. In general, it is not safe to lose weight too quickly; a weight loss of 2 to 3 pounds a week in the first year after the operation is possible, but 1½ pounds a week is more likely. Remember that your primary goal is to have a weight loss that prevents, improves, and/or resolves health problems associated with severe obesity.

Will I still get hungry following surgery?

The LAP-BAND® works best with solid foods to decrease hunger. Solid foods tend to stay in the stomach pouch longer, giving you a greater sense of fullness and satisfaction. Following surgery, you will begin by eating/drinking only liquid foods. Therefore during this time you may feel hungry. However, most patients find that they feel less hungry and more satisfied if they eat/drink the foods the recommended number of times throughout the day. Once you begin to eat solid foods you should feel very satisfied with significantly less food than you were consuming before surgery. After 6-8 weeks post-operatively, if your weight loss slows down to less than 1 pound a week, you may need to have a LAP-BAND® Adjustment to tighten the band.

What kind of post-operative medical care will I require and for how long?

You will be seen as often as necessary, of course, but we generally schedule you for a post-operative follow-up appointment at the Center two weeks after surgery. Then you will see the surgeon at 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and 1 year post-operatively. In addition, based on your rate of weight loss and your personal weight loss goals, your band may require that you come in for band adjustments. Finally, we will have an optional support group for LAP-BAND® patients dealing with emotional and psychological issues relating to body image, stress coping strategies, addictive behaviors, etc.

Will there be any medications that I can no longer take post-operatively or that I will be unable to absorb properly?

No, you will be able to take any medication necessary. Unlike other bariatric surgeries, the LAP-BAND® will not affect your absorption so the effectiveness of medication will not be diminished and/or affected.

How is the LAP-BAND® adjusted?

It is a quick and relatively painless outpatient procedure. You will be x-rayed during the procedure so that the band reservoir or "port" can be seen clearly. Then, a fine needle is passed through the skin into the port to add or remove saline. Adding saline tightens the band, further restricting the amount of food you can eat before you feel full and satisfied. Local anesthesia is used.

How many LAP-BAND® adjustments will I need?

The number of adjustments (fills) you may need cannot be determined in advance of your surgery. Some patients need one adjustment, while others need two or three in the first year depending upon their individual response to the band and the degree of weight loss desired. Generally, adjustments are not performed until at least 6 weeks after your surgery.

Are adjustments covered by my insurance company?

No, currently most insurance policies do not pay for band adjustments. If your insurance policy does not provide coverage for band adjustments, you will need to pay for this procedure yourself. For our cash-pay patients, the first year of adjustments are free, however, for all other patients, adjustments are $125 each. Individuals who have had their surgery elsewhere will be charged $500.00 for each adjustment.

How long will it take to have an adjustment?

The adjustment usually takes only a few minutes and you will be able to leave the Center immediately following the procedure. You will be placed back on a liquid diet for a few days following the adjustment in order to give your stomach some time to adapt to the change.

Will I be able to get pregnant after LAP-BAND® surgery?

During the first year after surgery: A fast rate of weight loss during pregnancy is thought to be harmful to the developing baby. Therefore, we would like for you to use some form of contraception to avoid pregnancy during the first year following surgery. If you become pregnant, however, during this first year, we will leave your LAP-BAND® in place without saline in order to ensure adequate nutrition for the baby's growth. After the first year: Many women find it easier to conceive following substantial weight loss. Your menstrual cycle may become more regular. If you need to eat more while you are pregnant, the band can be loosened. After the pregnancy, the band can be made tighter again and you can go back to losing weight.

Potential Side Effects, Risks & Complications:

What are the risks and complications involved with the LAP-BAND® procedure?

Any gastric operation for obesity is major surgery and carries with it the risks associated with any complex operation. And although the LAP-BAND® procedure is minimally invasive surgery, it is not without its own risks (laparoscopic surgery risks include: complications from general anesthesia, spleen or liver damage, damage to major blood vessels, lung problems, blood clots, rupture of the wound, esophagus/stomach perforation ).

In rare cases, the LAP-BAND® surgery cannot be performed using the less invasive laparoscopic approach. For example, if unforeseen problems arise while attempting to position the band, surgeons may have to switch to an open method. In addition, there can be serious complications that may warrant the removal of the LAP-BAND® including:

  • Slippage of additional stomach tissue under the band
  • Erosion of the band into the stomach
  • Infection and/or breakage of the injection port (rare)
  • Gastric symptoms

While removal of the band can often be done laparoscopically, in some cases it may require open surgery. Serious problems such as peritonitis, infection, leaks, and long-term nutrition problems such as iron and vitamin deficiencies that are seen with gastric bypass surgery do not occur with the LAP-BAND®. Re-operation rates for gastric bypass are significantly higher due to leaks, bowel blockages, outlet scarring, ulcers, and bleeding.

The surgeon will review the potential surgical and/or LAP-BAND® complications in greater detail with you during your consultation. In the meantime, visit the LAP-BAND® manufacturer's Website for additional discussion of the risks and complications.

What is the mortality rate for the LAP-BAND® procedure?

The mortality rate is extremely low for LAP-BAND® surgery, less than 0.1%.

Have you ever had any patients die?

No, none of our patients have died.

Will I need to have a blood transfusion during surgery?

No, most of the time blood loss is minimal.

Will I have any problems with gas post-operatively?

Gas is common during the first post-operative week; some patients complain of "needing to burp, but nothing comes up". This problem can usually be alleviated by walking and drinking fluids as soon as you can after surgery.

Are there risk involved with gereral anesthesia?

Serious side effects of general anesthesia are uncommon in people who are otherwise healthy. However, because general anesthesia affects the whole body, it is more likely to cause side effects than local or regional anesthesia. Also obese patients are considered at a higher level of risk because of health problems and body mass index. Our team considers as many factors of complications when medically clearing you for surgery which includes the administration of general anesthesia. Fortunately, most side effects of general anesthesia are minor and can be easily managed but like in any surgery there are normal anesthesia risks involved.

How will reflux / heartburn affect me after the surgery?

In recent studies, patient's reflux problems have improved after LAP-BAND® surgery. However, some patients may experience reflux during the early stages of their recovery.

Will I suffer from constipation?

There may be some reduction in the volume of your stools. This is normal after a decrease in food consumption, because you are eating less fiber. This should not cause severe problems. If difficulties do arise, however, the doctor may suggest that you take a mild laxative and drink plenty of water for a while. Drinking plenty of water is recommended, anyway. Your needs will vary, but you should drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day.

Will I suffer any hair loss or other nutritional deficiencies commonly associated with bariatric surgery?

No, unlike most other forms of bariatric surgery, the LAP-BAND® is not a malabsorptive procedure so your body's ability to metabolize vitamins and nutrients will not be affected.

Will I need plastic surgery for the extra skin after I have lost a lot of weight?

Plastic surgery is not always necessary - sometimes the skin will readjust and mold itself around the new reduced body tissue. You should give your skin the time it needs to adjust - at least a year or two - before you decide to have more surgery.

What will happen to me if I become ill?

One of the major advantages of the LAP-BAND® system is that it is adjustable. If your illness requires you to eat more, the band can be loosened by removing saline from it (it can also be removed if it cannot be loosened enough). Once you have recovered from your illness and want to start losing weight again, the band can be tightened again.


Where are the operations performed?

Surgeries will be performed at a hospital that is in-network with your insurance policy. These are state-of-the-art facilities with medical staff members who are extremely experienced in bariatric surgery. Most are also conveniently contracted with most insurance carriers. Whether you have a PPO or an HMO policy, we will be able to serve you in-network with one of the most experienced hospital staff in the Texas.

Are the Surgery Centers JCAHO accredited?

Yes, our Surgery Centers have been accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), which means that they have demonstrated a commitment to quality care excellence and have complied with all of its rigorous treatment protocols, operational requirements and safety standards.

What is the first thing I need to do if I am interested in the program?

The first step is to schedule a consultation with our office. If you are approved for surgery after your initial consultation, and you have been medically cleared by the physician, your surgery date will be scheduled. Please note that the timing for the completion of these steps and the scheduling of surgery varies from patient to patient based on whether or not you are paying for the operation yourself (approximately 2 weeks).

How do I pay for the LAP-BAND® surgery?

You can either pay for the operation yourself upfront (self-pay), or you can try to get the procedure covered by your health insurance plan. If you decide to self-pay for the surgery, we have several financing options to help you manage the costs (please call our office at (713) 464-BAND (2263), and we will be happy to give you this information). If you want to have your insurance company pay for the LAP-BAND®, you will need to call our office at (713) 464-BAND (2263), and we will be more than happy to file your paperwork for you. Please feel free to contact us to discuss either payment option.

How quickly can I get the LAP-BAND® surgery?

Self-pay patients have about 8 days from the date of their initial surgical consultation to the date of their surgery. Patients seeking insurance coverage for the procedure, however, generally wait about 3 weeks between the consultation and their surgery date due to the length of the insurance company's approval process.