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Offering hope to those struggling with obesity

Thursday, December 4, 2008
For immediate use

LAP-BAND System offering hope to those struggling with obesity

The one in four New Zealanders who are obese1 can now access a clinically proven and minimally invasive obesity procedure with the official launch of Wellington’s first LAP-BAND System (laparoscopic adjustable gastric band) weight loss clinic.

Mr David Schroeder, a pioneer of laparoscopic obesity surgery in New Zealand, is offering the LAP-BAND® System to those who have tried countless weight loss diets, exercise and medications but failed.

“Our new Surgical Obesity Service, Wellington, offers those struggling with obesity an effective, long-term, weight loss choice,” said Mr Schroeder.

“Given that more than 826,000 New Zealanders are obese1, the risk to life is now a major health problem”.

Obese people living in Auckland, South Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wanganui can also access the LAP-BAND™ System.

In New Zealand, the prevalence of obesity has increased in the past decade.1 Obesity affects men and women of all ages, especially men aged 55 to 64 and women aged 55 to 74.1 The majority of New Zealanders from a Pacific background are obese (64 per cent), followed by Maori adults (42 per cent), those of European background or other heritage (24 per cent) and Asian adults (11 per cent).1

Excessively overweight people whose life expectancy is significantly diminished compared to the general population, can reduce this risk to life through substantial weight loss with the LAP-BAND® System.2

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Research has shown that people who lose a substantial amount of weight with the LAP-BAND® System have a 72 per cent chance of living longer than obese people who have not achieved significant weight loss.2 Typically, LAP-BAND® System recipients lose an average of 27kg in weight.2

According to Mr Schroeder, obesity is not only linked to increased mortality, but can also lead to serious health risks including heart attack and stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, and some cancers.3

“In fact, obesity can so seriously impede a person’s health that it is considered more damaging than smoking and alcohol abuse.4”

The LAP-BAND® System is a band that is placed around the stomach to create a smaller sized pouch. It has a soft lining that can be inflated or deflated with saline to change the size of the band. This adjustment is done through an access port in the abdomen, without additional surgery.5

The LAP-BAND® System works in two ways to prevent excess food consumption:
 It creates a small pouch which minimises the amount of food that may be eaten5
 The band presses on the stomach, sending signals to the brain that the stomach is full, preventing pangs of hunger.6

Gastric banding surgery is performed laparoscopically (keyhole surgery) through small incisions in the abdomen, this permits a quicker recovery, with most patients spending only a day in hospital. It also does not involve cutting or stapling of the stomach.5

“Because parts of the digestive system are not removed, there is less risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies than with gastric bypass surgery,” said Mr Schroeder.

Extensive research shows that after two years, LAP-BAND® System recipients lose up to 87 per cent of their excess weight compared to those who shed only 21 per cent of their excess weight through a low-calorie diet, weight loss medication and lifestyle changes.7 On average, each LAP-BAND® System recipient loses between 0.5 to 1 kg per week following the procedure.8

However Mr Schroeder cautions that the LAP-BAND® System is not a quick fix to weight loss but rather, one part of a person’s lifetime commitment to shedding excess weight and leading a healthier lifestyle.

“At Surgical Obesity Service, Wellington much like our clinic in Hamilton, we don’t exclusively focus on losing weight. Rather, we provide a clinically effective weight loss tool and importantly, address the psychological aspects associated with food and habitual eating.
“Obesity is a complex disease. We all have different messages from our brain about food. It is sometimes assumed that those who over-indulge in food must have a lack of self-control. However, the spectrum of pressure to eat can range from minimal to an overwhelmingly persistent hunger that can never be satisfied,” said Mr Schroeder.

“Obese patients often describe a constant nagging within their brain - an obsession with food and very rarely feeling full. Sensations like this are part of a true addiction, similar to the feelings experienced by those who are addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, gambling and drugs.

“The best weight loss surgery results are achieved when there is a good working partnership between the patient and an allied healthcare team comprising a surgeon, obesity nurse educator, nutritionist and a psychologist,” Mr Schroeder said.

Mr Schroeder educates all of his patients on obesity including the causes, physical and psychological contributors and treatment options. This clinic’s holistic approach comprises three equally important elements:
1. The gastric banding procedure designed to ease the obsession with food;
2. To teach patients healthy adult ways of coping with stress rather than ‘comfort eating’;
3. To help the patient find other healthy sources of enjoyment.

The LAP-BAND® System is suitable for people aged over 18 who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or at least 35 with an associated complication of obesity such as heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea or chronic back, hip or knee pain.5

“Generally these people would have been overweight for more than five years and have made concerted attempts to lose weight and failed,” said Mr Schroeder.

Complications associated with gastric banding surgery include risks from the medications and methods used in the surgical procedure, the risks associated with any surgical procedure, and the patient’s degree of intolerance to any foreign object implanted in the body.5

Mr Schroeder has performed more than 900 primary obesity operations, including the gastric banding procedure since 1996. During this period he has developed an intimate understanding of the band’s placement and how it works. This has resulted in the development of obesity programmes that maximise the patient’s chance of a successful outcome.

Mr Schroeder runs LAP-BAND® System information seminars in Wellington and Hamilton.

The Surgical Obesity Service is located at the Southern Cross Specialist Centre, 90 Hanson Street, Newtown, Wellington. go to www.obesitysurgery.co.nz.


1. A Portrait of Health. Key results of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey. Ministry of Health, New Zealand Government.
2. Peeters A, O’Brien PE et al. Substantial intentional weight loss and mortality in the severely obese. Ann Surg 2007; 246: 1028-1033.
3. Fact Sheet No. 311. World Health Organisation: obesity and overweight. September 2006.
4. Sturn R. The effects of Obesity, smoking and problem drinking on chronic medical problems and health care costs, Health Affairs. 2002: 21(2): 245-253. www.rand.org/health.
5. LAP-BAND AP® Adjustable Gastric Banding System. Directions for Use.
6. Dixon A, et al. Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding induces prolonged satiety: a randomized blind cross over study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 90: 813-819, 2005.
7. O’Brien PE et al. Treatment of mild to moderate obesity with laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding or an intensive medical program: a randomized trial. Ann of Intern Medi 2006 May 2; 144(9): 625-633.
8. Ren CJ, et al. US experience with the LAP-BAND System. Am J Surg 184 (2002): 46S-50S.

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