LAP-BAND, A Hit With Heart's Ann Wilson
Mike Falcon, Spotlight Health
With medical adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.
For rock star Ann Wilson, controlling her weight had been a lifelong, often
disheartening challenge. But now Heart's lead singer is thrilled by her weight
loss, changing figure, and increased energy after undergoing a new laparoscopic
surgical procedure called LAP-BAND Adjustable Gastric Banding System.
"I am pretty thrilled," says Wilson, who has lost 60 pounds. "It's a long,
Performed last January, Wilson had an adjustable band placed around the upper
portion of her stomach. This creates a smaller gastric pouch that limits both
the amount of food the stomach will hold and restricts food flow, allowing a
person to more easily lose weight.
And losing weight had concerned Wilson since early childhood. "It started for
me when I was very young," says Wilson, who as a third-grader weighed 100 pounds.
"As an adolescent, being heavy and being a girl has got to be one of the worst,
because you get so excluded and so laughed about," she says. "Fashion is so
important and being accepted is so important, and none of those things are available
And for millions, no matter how hard they diet, or how often they try, the
results are the same. "Every single diet has worked," says Wilson. "Temporarily,
just for a minute."
"Atkins, Scarsdale, Cambridge, the cabbage soup diet, the fruit diet, juice
fasting, rice, plain fasting," she recalls, rattling off her diet list. "Then
there's eating only protein and no carbs, or eating only carbs and no protein.
It was impossible. It just would not work."
But after the success of her LAP-BAND surgery, Wilson is passionate about helping
others lose weight. The rocker is headlining Spotlight Health's campaign
to increase public awareness about the LAP-BAND procedure. The initiative is
sponsored by the LAP-BAND's manufacturer, Inamed Health.
Weight loss surgery
According to the bariatric surgeons who specialize in procedures that alter
the structure and function of the digestive tract, Wilson's dieting experiences
are typical for many who are morbidly obese - generally about 100 pounds or
more over their ideal body weight.
"It's not that these people haven't tried, and tried again and again," notes
Brian Quebbemann, the bariatric surgeon who placed Wilson's LAP-BAND. "It's
that a combination of factors, including genetic predisposition, cultural norms,
and family and individual behaviors combine to make successful dieting as many
of us know it just about impossible for some others."
That's backed up by the Obesity Task Force of the American Association of Clinical
Endocrinologists and American College of Endocrinology, which found that although
patients on diets, exercise programs, or medication are able to lose approximately
10% of their body weight, they tend to regain two-thirds of it within one year,
and almost all of it within five years.
After decades of being overweight and carrying about 100 pounds more than Wilson
wanted on her 5'7" frame, she finally opted for bariatric surgery.
Gastric bypasses are the most familiar of these surgeries. But after extensive
discussions with Quebbemann, who regularly performs both operations, Wilson
elected the LAP-BAND procedure.
"I generally don't recommend one procedure over the other," says Quebbemann.
"Both are good for most patients, so I explain the aspects of each and how they
work, and their differences. The patients generally know themselves quite well,
so it's very important that they select - with expert input - what works best
A gastric bypass divides the stomach by stapling to create a thumb-sized stomach
pouch, and then connects the outlet of the pouch directly to the intestine,
essentially "bypassing" the lower stomach, but preserving the flow of digestive
While this restricts the volume and type of food consumed, sugars and fats,
as well as liquids consumed with meals, cause discomfort, known as the "dumping
syndrome." Consequently, patients are prompted to eat more protein.
Instead of stapling the stomach, a LAP-BAND procedure allows surgeons to place
a hollow silicone band around it. This is done laparoscopically, using several
tiny incisions instead of a single large one. The band can then be inflated
or deflated to adjust the degree to which food consumption is restricted.
If necessary, the band can also be removed, restoring the stomach's original
anatomy. FDA-approved in June 2001, clinical trials of this system report losses
of excess body weight ranging from 53.6% to 88.5%.
"Although we are guarded about every new procedure, the nice thing about this
is that it provides an operation that reduces only the volume of food intake,"
says Walter J. Pories, president of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.
"Also, because the band is adjustable and doesn't invade the stomach itself,
it shows great promise." Pories is also a professor of surgery at East Carolina
University, one of the trial sites for LAP-BAND approval.
"I like the idea of the LAP-BAND because it's a natural tool," says Wilson.
"I am not ready to change the inner landscape of my body. This is just something
that's going to remind me when it's time to stop eating."
Because the intestinal tract is not bypassed or rerouted, the LAP-BAND procedure
offers a faster operation and quicker recovery. "It's very simple," says Quebbemann.
"And that's part of the beauty of it."
"But it's still a drastic step," says Wilson, who
thoroughly investigated and discussed the procedure with her doctor before going
"As with any manmade artificial device, there are things that can go wrong,"
says Quebbemann. "But generally, with the LAP-BAND, repairing or replacing it
is a minor issue."
Consuming mass quantities of food is a bad idea at any time after the surgery
- the food can be regurgitated. With a newly placed LAP-BAND, slippage could
"Patient management is very important," advises Quebbemann. "We all have to
keep in mind that a gastric band is solely a restrictive procedure that slows
down the rate at which you eat."
"You really have to chew, and chew, and chew your food some more," says Wilson.
Large pieces of food or food that has not been chewed well can stress the band.
"But you can eat anything," notes Wilson. "You can eat regular food. It just
has to be healthy food and you just have to eat it in small quantities and stop
when you're full. That's really all it is."
Wilson is excited about her progress and that she has the freedom to eat a
wide variety of foods. However there is one food her waistline is happy to avoid
even though it's easily consumed.
"Thankfully," says Wilson, "I'm not really into ice cream."
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Created: 12/21/2002  - Mike Falcon & Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.