Is LAP-BAND right for you?

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If you're significantly overweight and feel like diet and exercise aren't helping in your weight loss journey, LAP-BAND surgery could be the tool to help you reach your health goals.

Since childhood, weight has been a constant concern for Tessa Fontenot.  "That's all I thought about was weight," she says, "every day - how are am I going to get it off, how am I going to keep it off, how people looked at me and how my job performance was every day."

Years of dietary changes and exercising only frustrated Tessa more as the scale see-sawed for decades.  "I felt depressed," Tessa says, "I felt like I didn't know how to control it and what to do about it."

As a G.I. tech at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, each day for Tessa involves treating the sick, so after weighing her options for her own health, LAP-BAND surgery seemed like the best fit.  "I decided that I wanted to get healthy for me, for my family and to work better," says Tessa.

Dr. Richard Shimer, a surgeon at St. Pat's, says the LAP-BAND surgery is the most minimally-invasive weight loss surgery since it's performed laparoscopically through several small incisions.  "Essentially what we're putting around the top part of the stomach," says Dr. Shimer, "if you could envision something that would look like a belt and it's adjustable, so we can cinch it down a rung or two or loosen it up depending on how much weight a person is trying to lose or how much restriction they may or may not have."

The adjustable gastric band creates a small upper stomach pouch, which limits the amount of food consumption while slowing digestion.  "It's to tell you when you're full to stop eating and when you're hungry to eat," says Tessa.

To qualify for a LAP-BAND procedure, Dr. Shimer says you must be clinically obese.  "A person who has a body mass index of 40 or above," he says, "which comes out to around 100 pounds over a person's ideal body weight. Also with that, a requirement is that a person had to have tried to lose weight by other methods and demonstrate that those have been unsuccessful."

After a year-long food diary and exercise plan that still didn't help Tessa shed the weight she had the LAP-BAND in December. Since then, she's dropped 35 pounds and has an increasingly positive view of her changing body.  "Oh, it's amazing," says Tessa, "I can't believe that I'm finally doing it and it's staying off."

*It's important to note that since the surgery, Tessa has been working out five days a week and is eating a protein-rich diet.

*The most common side effects after LAP-BAND surgery are nausea, vomiting and constipation.

If you have questions about this weight loss surgery, there's a free seminar tonight at 6:00 P.M. in the Diabetes Management Center at CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital. Call 491-7577 to reserve your seat.

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