NJ Governor Chris Christie's high-profile surgery could have impact in Florida

Lap-Band procedure growing in popularity locally

WELLINGTON, Fla. - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is literally losing it - about thirty pounds so far. His now high-profile Lap-Band procedure could have an impact at south Florida hospitals.

"I feel wonderful," said Laurie Schwartz of Boynton Beach. Schwartz is a lot lighter on her feet than she used to be. "If you had six bags of flour, that's the total amount that I've lost so far and that's just incredible," she said.

Schwartz has lost about 30 lbs from her highest weight of 300 just a few months ago.

Schwartz, like Christie, opted to go under the knife for Lap-Band surgery. So far, it is working for her. Schwartz is losing about pounds of fat loss each week. "Clothes just getting looser and looser," she said. "My grocery bill has gone down tremendously and I just have more energy."

During a Lap-Band procedure, a surgeon places an adjustable silicon ring around the top of the stomach, restricting the amount of food that can enter the gastric chamber. Less room for food means less of an appetite and more weight loss.

With Christie's successful surgery - and hopefully successful weight loss, local Lap-Band surgeons, such as Schwartz's doctor at Wellington Regional Medical Center, believe the procedure is becoming more popular.

"Now it will give them the ability to say 'I see somebody that's done it who is high-profile, let's watch him and see what happens'," said Dr. Paul Wizman.

Evidence of Lap-Band's popularity can be found at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach as well.

On Monday, Dr. Richard Follwell performed the hospitals first-ever Lap-Band procedure.

"Overnight stay was 23 hours, home this morning, doing great, no problems at all," said Follwell of his patient.

Schwartz is hoping to lose another 100 lb. "Obesity is such a big thing in America, that this is the perfect tool to use," she said.

Not all medical experts feel the same way about  Lap-Band procedures and they say it is not for all obese people.

With any surgery, they reiterate, there are risks.

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