Difference Between Gastric Sleeve and Lap-Band Surgery

Jeremy Korman';

By Jeremy Korman

Posted on September 2nd, 2011 in Weight Loss

The sleeve gastrectomy (or gastric sleeve) and the adjustable laparoscopic gastric band (otherwise called lap band) are two of the options available to seriously obese patients who seek bariatric surgery as a solution to improve their health.

Although several medical options are available today, not all surgical weight loss solutions are the same or the right solution for every patient.

Our weight loss program helps the patient determine which solution might be more appropriate for them.

What's the Difference?

Sleeve gastrectomy and lap band surgery both involve modifying the stomach so that it can hold less food. However, they go about this in very different ways.

The lap band is a device that goes around the stomach, cinching off a pouch that holds a small fraction of the food that the whole stomach can normally contain.

It is "inflated" or "deflated" with saline injections via a small port beneath the skin. There is no cutting or stapling of the stomach in lap-band surgery, and digestion is normal. In the gastric sleeve operation, the surgeon actually removes a large part of the stomach. The remaining part of the patient's stomach is in the shape of a tube or sleeve.

Because the sleeve gastrectomy involves cutting and suturing of the stomach, recovery time may be long after this procedure than after the lap band.

Although this is a more invasive procedure, it does benefit from generally providing superior weight loss in the first 12-18 months after surgery. Across the U.S.:

  • the average gastric sleeve cost is $14,900,
  • as for the lap band cost, it circles $14,532. 

Who Is Eligible?

Another difference between the procedures is the profile of the average patient. The lap band is recommended by the Food and Drug Administration as a possible weight loss solution for people with a BMI as low as 30 in some cases.

Sleeve gastrectomy, on the other hand, is usually reserved for patients whose BMI is significantly higher. The average gastric sleeve patient is "morbidly obese," which means that their BMI is over 40. Some studies have concluded that gastric sleeve surgery is also safe and effective for lower-BMI patients.

Can the Surgeon Reverse it?

The lap band involves no cutting or modification of the digestive organs, so it is completely reversible in side effects.

However, the patient should consider it permanent; if the lap band is removed, so is the weight-loss assistance it offers, and the patient risks putting the lost weight back on. Moreover, sleeve gastrectomy is not reversible because the surgeon removes up to 80 percent of the stomach. The surgeon cannot reattach the removed portion.