According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 50 percent of Americans are overweight and nearly 12 million citizens are morbidly obese.

These statistics graphically depict why more than 500,000 people have undergone laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. This procedure, also known as lap band surgery, has fewer medical complications than more extensive types of weight loss procedures, such as gastric bypass surgery.

Insurance companies normally cover lap band surgery if you meet certain criteria. You must have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher and have diabetes, heart disease or other concomitant medical conditions that losing weight will improve.

Individuals with a BMI of 40 and have no other coexisting conditions also meet the diagnostic criteria for lap band surgery. The procedure is conducted using general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make two to five minute incisions in your abdomen to insert a laparoscope and instruments. The surgeon will secure a band around your stomach and separate it into two pouches.

The saline-filled band can be adjusted by your surgeon after your surgery via a port through your abdomen. Adjustments are sometimes necessary to achieve the optimal rate of weight loss. A smaller stomach helps you feel satisfied after eating smaller quantities of food. Lap band surgery leaves small scars that don’t require stitches. The recovery period is shorter than gastric bypass procedures. Patients are usually able to go home the day following the surgery.

The quantity of food you can eat will gradually increase. You must adhere to a liquid diet for the first two weeks. This stage is followed by a four-week transitional period in which you can eat pureed, semi-solid and then solid food. Your initial band adjustment is performed about six weeks after the surgical procedure and then up to six times the first year.