Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman —What Is The Lap Band?

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet, and health questions.

Want to know which foods to curb sugar cravings? Or, what should you eat before a workout? Ask Keri anything!

Keri will choose one great question a week to be answered Thursday in our Healthy Hollywood column.

To submit questions for Keri, click HERE!

This week’s question…

“Lauren from the ‘Real Housewives of New Jersey’ just lost a lot of weight after getting something called ‘Lap Band.’ What is it and how soon can I get it, too?!?” – Kelly B., Scranton, PA

Keri says…

With all the table tossing and hair pulling on the “Real Housewives of New Jersey,” there is finally some drama we all can relate to: weight drama. Lauren Manzo publicly struggled with body image this season, and when an extreme “egg white diet” left her hungry and frustrated (no surprise there!) she got “the Lap Band.” One year later and bam — she dropped 30 pounds and her new slim physique hit the pages of the gossip mags. For those of us living in the real world, is it that easy? Can you simply pay for a new dress size?

Lap…What?: The Lap Band is an FDA-approved brand name for an adjustable silicone belt or band that is inserted surgically to wrap around the upper portion of your stomach. That’s right, you go under the knife for this one and the anatomy of your stomach is altered. This belt creates a tiny pouch in the upper portion of your stomach where food is stored, cutting it off from the rest of the stomach. Now the size of a golf ball, your stomach cannot hold a high volume of food. In fact, you can only fit about an ounce of food in your stomach at one time. Picture it this way: that’s about 22 almonds, a half-cup of oatmeal, or about an egg (not all at once, just one of these!). One size doesn’t fit all in this case, as the band can be adjusted, slightly. The special rubber that the band is made out of, called silastic, acts like a balloon in which your doctor can inflate or deflate, tightening or expanding your stomach—this gives “controlling your appetite” a whole new meaning.

Surgery One Day, Skinny the Next?: For those willing to undergo surgery, there is still work to be done before you can fit into your dream dress size. Immediately after surgery, you have to gradually reintroduce food to your stomach. This means a liquid diet for the first two weeks — so first you go through surgery, then you’re on a detox! Following the liquid diet, you can advance to semi-solids for the next four weeks, until you are able to eat solids. Not only will you have to eat a limited amount of food, you are required to exercise and follow a weight-loss nutrition plan — sound familiar? Likely, you will drop pounds quicker and easier than just diet and exercise alone. This weight loss is gradual and varies; some people lose about 2-3 pounds a week, whereas 1 pound per week is also common. You won’t lose as much as you would with the more invasive gastric bypass, but studies have shown you will lose about 50 percent of excess weight which, for some, is just enough.

Lap Band For Everybody?: Not so fast — whether you have a lot of weight to lose or are just looking to drop a little belly flab, Lap Band is not the quick fix. Diet and exercise should be always tried first and will always have to be implemented after, regardless. You must qualify to be a weight loss surgery candidate. The FDA recently cut down the requirements for the Lap Band in particular, making it the only approved weight loss surgery for people with a BMI of 30 with at least one weight related illness such as, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and heart disease. A BMI of 30-35, when diet changes and other weight loss therapies have not worked, also makes you a candidate.

The Skinny on Surgery: Surgery is not a magic bullet to weight loss. Lap Band is not a free ride to a diet and exercise-free life. A smaller stomach means a larger list of restrictions with little room to overindulge, seriously--if you do, well…it comes up and out. My suggestion? If you opt for the surgery, change your lifestyle first. You may just find that lifestyle change alone works!

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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