Lap-Band VIP weight loss firm ordered to pull misleading billboards, TV marketing

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A lap-band as viewed on an X-ray. Lap-Band VIP is the second California Lap-Band firm to get a warning.

The Food and Drug Administration has warned a Los Angeles-based Lap-Band firm to pull misleading weight loss surgery ads. It's the second California Lap-Band firm to get a warning, following a similar warning for 1-800-GET-THIN in December.

The June 25 FDA letter to Lap-Band VIP in suburban Encino tells the owners to change their billboard and television marketing — if they don't, they will face disciplinary action.

Lap-Band VIP co-owner Dr. Shahram Salimitari said Monday the company has pulled its billboard advertising. Several Lap-Band VIP billboards that lined the 5 Freeway south of downtown L.A. just last week are now gone, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Lap-Band VIP says it has no relationship with the other firm to receive a warning, 1-800-GET-THIN, according to the Times, though Salimitari said he used to perform Lap-Band procedures at a clinic associated with 1-800-GET-THIN. Salimitari says he left and formed Lap-Band VIP with a fellow surgeon. It opened in 2009, directing patients to Mount Sinai Surgery Center in Tarzana, according to the Times.

Lap-Band VIP general manager Shayla Reed told the Times in a statement that "There have been no deaths associated with LapBandVIP.com," while five patients died after Lap-Band surgery at clinics affiliated with 1-800-GET-THIN between 2009 and 2011, according to the Times.

The FDA says the Lap-Ban VIP ads fail to include adequate warnings about the surgery's risks, the Times reports. The FDA says Lap-Band VIP must promptly correct the violations or risk regulatory action.

The Lap-Band is a silicone ring surgically implanted around the stomach to discourage overeating and help patients lose weight.

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