Are Lap Band Complications Worth the Risk?

Posted by Jason Radecke on Tue, Jun 18, 2013

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band surgery is commonly recognized as a safe and effective procedure for weight loss. The level of risk for a serious or fatal complication is low, but the prevalence of minor complications should be considered among prospective patients. With complications ranging from annoyances to lap band ‘failure’ and band removal, it’s important to be informed before deciding if lap band surgery is right for you.

Complete failure of a lap band usually means that the band has resulted in unsuccessful weight loss, or that complications have occurred that require band removal. ‘Unsuccessful’ generally means that the procedure resulted in 25% to 30% or less of the patient’s excess weight. A successful weight loss should generate 50% or more of excess weight loss. Some complications, such as a lap band slip, could also be cause to call the band a failure, leading to possible removal or the need for additional surgery.

 Possible complications from lap band surgery, and their common treatments:

  • Blood clots- Treated by taking a prescribed blood thinner.

  • Bowel function changes- Treated by taking fiber supplements and drinking more water.

  • Bowel perforations- Treated by immediate repair of the bowel puncture.

  • Esophageal dilation- Treated through deflation of the band, sometimes under radiological control.

  • Food trapping- Treated by deflating the band entirely until the food passes.

  • Gallstones- Sometimes surgery is required for gallbladder removal.

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease- Treated by avoiding certain foods and drinks or prescribing antacids. If symptoms of acid reflux suddenly emerge after you’re bariatric surgery is long past, it could mean your lap band has slipped, requiring other treatment options.

  • Hiatal hernia- Treated and repaired during bariatric surgery.

  • Indigestion- Treated by a change in diet. If diet changes don’t work antacids and H2 blockers can be prescribed.

  • Intolerance to certain foods- Treated by a diet change and regiment for a period of time.

  • Nausea and vomiting- Treated by IV fluids and a doctor ordered bariatric diet. But this could also be a sign of a lap band slip, which could require other treatments.

  • Pneumonia- Treated with antibiotics.

  • Pouch dilation- Treated by removing fluid from the band, but surgery is sometimes required to remove the lap band

  • Band erosion- Treated by permanent removal of the band.

  • Band intolerance-  Treated by permanent removal of the band.

  • Band leak- Treated by replacing or removing the band.

  • Band slippage- Treated by repositioning or removing the band.

Reoperation is often needed when severe complications are involved. These operations typically mean adjusting the band, removing it, replacing it, or converting to a different procedure. Patients who convert to a different procedure after lap band surgery complications or failure tend to have much better outcomes than simply replacing the old lap band. A common and successful conversion procedure is converting a gastric band to a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

At Riverside Surgical and Weight Loss Center, we’re committed to helping people with their weight loss goals. If you’re considering bariatric surgery and would like to know more about which weight loss option would work best for you visit our website.

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Tags: Lap Band Complications

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