The lap band surgery procedure has been effectively helping people lose weight and live healthier lifestyles for nearly 20 years. It consists of implanting an inflatable band around the upper stomach, creating a small pouch that is filled with saline. This results in greater control over portion size and hunger. After eating a small amount of food, you feel full so that you don’t go back for seconds. Portion control is a critical component in losing weight because so many people eat way too much, often to the point of bloatedness. The laparoscopic adjustable gastric band is meant to control that problem and help people eat less, but still feel satisfied.
We don’t want to discourage you from getting bariatric surgery or the lap band procedure, but in order to find out if a certain weight loss surgery is right for you, you should research as many facts as you can. With any type of surgery, there are always going to be risks that you should know about. The lap band surgery carries the same risks as any laparoscopic procedure, but it has a very low risk of surgical complications than other weight loss procedures. Although these problems are rare, we think it’s important for you to know about them. Here are the three biggest lap band surgery risks:
1. Band Slippage
Lap band slippage happens when the band is misplaced from its original, intended location. It can occur for many reasons including overeating, excessive vomiting, and even drinking carbonated beverages. This occurrence is not permanent or irreparable; band slippage can be easily fixed with another surgery that will restore its proper positioning. Symptoms of lap band slippage include nausea, acid reflux, difficulty eating, and the ability to eat more than usual.
There are numerous treatments for a lap band slip. Depending on what your bariatric surgeon decides is right for you, they may recommend deflating the band (for mild slips), reposition surgery, or lap band removal.
2. Band Erosion
Lap band erosion, or lap band migration, occurs when the band actually grows into the stomach. It happens to less than two percent of patients, and there are many treatment options available. If your gastric band is growing into your stomach, it won’t be restricting food from passing through so you won’t feel satisfied with small portions anymore. The best way to tell if this is happening to you is if you’re not losing any weight or you’re gaining weight, or if you have an increase in hunger. It takes awhile for erosion to happen, so patients are usually diagnosed no sooner than two years after their lap band surgery. Other symptoms could be port site infection (see below) or port site abscess. If you suspect your band may be eroding, speak with your doctor.
If erosion occurs, your lap bad will need to be removed. However, lap band removal doesn’t mean that your weight loss journey is over! Many patients experience complications, have their band removed, and convert to a different bariatric surgery like gastric bypass or duodenal switch.
3. Port Problems
The port is a small reservoir that has a diaphragm, and is connected to the lap band ring by tubing. Its main function is to allow for remote filling of the band from a location away from the surgery site. It’s surgically placed where it can be easily accessible by the surgeon with a needle, in case the band needs to be tightened (adding more saline) or loosened (removing some saline). When talking to your surgeon about certain side effects, health complications, or lifestyle changes (like pregnancy), the surgeon may find it best to make adjustments to the band accordingly.
Minor infections in this area can be treated with antibiotics, but more serious infections could also lead to lap band removal. Port leaks can cause the band to lose its fill. If the band is not maintaining its proper fill level, the tubing or port may need to be replaced. The port, which is under your skin, can also flip, dislodge or misplace. This means that the doctor won’t be able to locate, properly fill or adjust the band, but all can be easily corrected with a simple procedure.
It’s important to remember that if you have any questions about the risks or benefits of any procedure, talk to your doctor or surgeon. Only they can diagnose you or tell you what the appropriate course of action might be. Although these risks can happen to anyone, they only happen in a small percentage of patients, and most can be easily fixed or treated. There are tons of options for patients having complications with their bariatric surgeries! If you’re one of those patients, Riverside Surgical can help! Schedule an appointment with us today, and we’ll help you determine what’s stopping you from reaching your weight loss goals.