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Video: FDA considers loosening lap-band rules

  1. Closed captioning of: FDA considers loosening lap-band rules

    >>> a medical question tonight, how much overweight do you have to be to qualify for that lap band surgery to surgically bring about weight loss ? and should more people be eligible for it? it's a question of particular interest to women in america. they're the vast majority of patients for this surgery. and tomorrow, an fda panel will consider a request by manufacturers of the lap band who want to loosen these rules. our report from our chief science correspondent robert bazell .

    >> reporter: michelle once weighed 307 pounds. then a surgeon implanted the device known as lap band and she lost half the weight over three years.

    >> i've been happy i've taken off this weight and kept it off.

    >> reporter: her mother, sharon , wanted the surgery too, who learned she wasn't eligible because she wasn't heavy enough.

    >> i was ready to finally get something where i would lose the weight.

    >> reporter: sharon and millions of others may get a chance to have the operation. the company that makes the lap band is applying for fda permission to lower the minimum weight for the surgery.

    >> we're only talking about a 30-pound weight difference. it's not like we're going from dealing with really enormous people to dealing with skinny people. these people are still obese by any category that's used and they've got this disease process going on.

    >> reporter: lap bands account for half the annual 220,000 weight loss surgeries in this country. it's already a heavily advertised procedure. it's wrapped around the top of the stomach, then tightened to make the patient feel full. some say not so fast. they point out this is serious abdominal surgery with the risk of side effects and rarely, even death.

    >> you need to know that you're really going to be better off afterwards medically than you were before hand. that's the kind of proof we think consumers deserve.

    >> reporter: consumers like sharon thorpe and their doctors believe the procedure reduces weight related health problems. robert bazell , nbc news, new

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