Lapband surgery is not new but the procedure that took place in operating room 9 at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center Friday is not typical.
"This is our first patient to do this," Dr. Robert Davis of the Davis Clinic said.
The patient on the operating table is a 21-year-old college student. Obesity runs in her family and with a Body Mass Index of 32, she now qualifies for this weight reduction surgery under new FDA guidelines that went into effect this past February.
The higher the BMI, the bigger a patient.
In the past, patients had to have a BMI of at least 35. Now, a patient with a BMI of 30 qualifies.
During the procedure, Davis places an adjustable band around the top part of the patient's stomach. As he inflates it, the stomach outlet will shrink and reduce the patient's desire to eat.
"People with a BMI between 30 and 35, a vast majority of them are going to go on to develop a co-morbid (condition)," Davis said. "That's (medical issues like) diabetes, hypertension, heart failure as they go on. We're very, very interested in preventing the co-morbid (conditions). You know, it's nice to look a little bit skinnier, and it's nice to lose 20 or 30 pounds. I like to do that myself, but it's a whole lot better if you get rid of Type 2 diabetes, or at least you push it away so it doesn't come."
While this is Davis' first surgical patient with a BMI lower than 35, it's not his first time performing the procedure.
Belinda Garcia walked into the Davis Clinic 3 years ago weighing 205 pounds. Garcia isn't even 5 feet tall. Her BMI was 42.
"I was at the doctor all the time," she said. "From anxiety, heart palpitations, knee problems, heel problems. You name it. It was every other week."
Now down to 130 pounds, post-surgery Garcia doesn't take any prescription medicines and teaches dance classes 12 times a week.
Still, her BMI was a lot higher than Davis's current patient. Even so Garcia doesn't think a person with a BMI of 30 is too thin to undergo weight loss surgery.
The people running insurance companies don't seem to agree. While Garcia's insurance covered her surgery, newly-qualified patients with the lower BMIs are not covered.
The surgery costs between $13,000 - $15,000.
For more information, including how you can calculate your BMI, follow the link below: