RENO, Nev. - This week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made headlines when he announced he'd secretly undergone Lap-Band surgery back in February. He told reporters it was a decision he made to lead a healthier lifestyle.
It's a procedure Reno bariatric surgeon Dr. Kent Sasse has performed on thousands of people over the last 13 years. It's minimally invasive and usually takes 30-40 minutes.
“The Lap-Band is a procedure where a band or an adjustable belt is wrapped around the upper stomach and a little tubing connects what we call an access port,” Sasse said. “It's underneath the skin so there's nothing external but the band can be accessed and tightened. As a person loses weight they're losing fat from everywhere but also losing fat from around the stomach so just like you tighten your belt you can tighten the band to continue that feeling of satiety.”
He says the procedure has become less invasive and safer over the years. The goal is to promote healthier lifestyles for people with BMIs of 30 or greater who haven't had much success with other weight loss methods. The surgery is just the beginning of the journey.
“We tell everyone they're not off the hook if they've had one of these procedures,” Sasse said. “In fact, we want you to really buy into the system and be successful for the long term so it really does require some changes in the way you think about food and exercise, really embracing a whole different lifestyle.
He says about 80% of patients see notable weight loss and overall improvements in their health.
“There are so many people that have experienced life-changing weight loss and through these procedures and lifestyle changes they've reached complete remission with their diabetes, made progress with heart and respiratory problems,” Sasse said. “It's really quite remarkable. Some of these procedures can really be the way to a life change.”
He says the technology continues to improve.
“The procedures are becoming much less invasive and much safer,” Sasse said. “According to the FDA they are safer than not doing the procedure so that means untreated obesity is regarded as less safe. These procedures are considered safer than common procedures like C-sections and hernia repair.”
Lap-Band surgery has been FDA approved in the United States since 2000.