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Weight Loss Surgery Coverage Push

More obese Americans may be given the opportunity to have their weight loss surgery covered by insurance if device manufacturers have their way. Allergan Inc., makers of the LapBand gastric banding device, has been the most vocal in their efforts to give obese patients access to this life-altering surgery. Weight Loss Surgery Coverage PushBeing able to have this surgery covered by insurance will give patients the tools they need to fight a host of life-threatening illnesses brought on by their obesity. Allergan proposes that allowing more people access to insurance coverage will save billions of dollars in healthcare costs for both the government and employers.

The Dilemma

Critics argue that bariatric surgery has high rates of complications which can reach into the thousands and that the surgery doesn’t change the underlying behavior.


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Gastric Bypass Surgery Patient Shocked to Learn Weight Loss Was Due to Diet and Exercise

How would you feel if you just spent your entire life savings on gastric bypass surgery only to realize that you were actually losing weight the old fashioned way, through diet and exercise?

The following story is a tale of will power and faith, as it is a classic example that what we believe, we can achieve.

Karren Knight, mother of two from Cheshire, England one day decided she was going to get a gastric band tied around her stomach, as no other method of weight loss seemed to work for her. Trying several diets and exercise programs in the past, Knight could not lose weight. At nearly 200 pounds overweight, Knight realized she had to do something, or the quality of her life was going to continue to get worse.

Determined and believing that having a gastric band fitted to restrict her appetite would be a success, Knight followed the doctor’s orders to eat very little and got some exercise. Even thought Knight expressed that it was no easy feat to take her mind off of food, she remained loyal to her recommended eating schedule.

After complaining to her sister about her desire to eat, think about, and be obsessed with food, Knight decided to do something enjoyable to keep her mind off of her hunger. She found a Zumba class that was offered just down the road from where she lived, figuring it would be an easy way to keep attending because it was nearby, not to mention very fun.


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LAP Bands Approved by FDA for Wider Use

LAP Band

Lap Band

The Food and Drug Administration officially approved use of gastric bands, also known as Lap-Bands, for people with a BMI of 30 or higher and have an obesity-related health problem. The previous regulations only approved the device for people with a BMI of 40 and no additional health problems or a BMI of 35 with health complications. The new regulation is in accordance with recommendations made by an FDA panel in December.

Allergan, the maker of the Lap-Band, originally applied to lower the threshold to anyone with a BMI of 35, regardless of other health complications. However, the new provision only includes people with conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, the threshold for otherwise healthy people remains at a BMI of 40. “In order to target this therapy to patients who will benefit the most, the approved indication is limited to patients at the highest risk of obesity-related complications,” said Karen Riley, a spokeswoman for the FDA. According to The New York Times, an estimated 26 million Americans are now eligible for the surgery.


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FDA Panel Advises Expanding Use of Gastric Bands

gastric band

UPDATE [2/17/11]: The FDA has now approved the use of LAP Bands for anyone with a BMI of 30 who also suffers from an obesity-related health condition.

On Friday, a Food and Drug Administration panel recommended expanding the use of gastric bands, or LAP bands, to treat obesity. Currently, only patients who are morbidly obese can qualify for stomach band surgery, which can aid in weight loss by restricting the amount of food that the stomach is able to hold. If adopted, the new recommendation will allow about 12 million more obese people to receive the implant.

About 15 million people currently qualify for gastric banding surgery, which means they have body mass index score of 40 or higher, or 35 or higher if the person has weight-related health condition. The new guidelines would lower the BMI score to 35 or 30 with a health condition.


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More Obese Teens Turn to Gastric Band Surgery

Update: Our resident mental health expert, Brooke Randolph, LMHC, weighs in on the topic in a featured story at Yahoo Shine: Teen Weight Loss Surgery Unhealthy for Many Reasons.

There is some alarming news coming from a new study: Overweight teenagers are undergoing laparoscopic gastric band surgery in increasing numbers, even though the procedure is not approved for anyone under 18 years old.

Researchers examined a database of bariatric surgeries in California, and found that gastric band operations increased seven-fold from 2005 to 2007. They also found that 590 people between 13- and 20-years-old underwent gastric band or gastric bypass surgery during the study period.

Another point noted was that 93 percent of the weight-reduction surgeries were performed in hospitals that are not affiliated with nationally recognized children’s hospitals.

While “manufacturers have touted the banding procedure as less invasive, many [medical] centers have abandoned gastric banding because of poor long-term results,” say the study’s authors.
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