Lap Band Risks

Lap band surgery, also known as gastric banding, is a type of weight loss surgery in which a silicone band is placed on the upper part of the stomach to restrict its food holding capacity. Lap band surgery got FDA approval in 2001. Although the gastric banding process is reversible and hence considered a safer option, it is not for everyone. In this article, we will look at the risks of lap band.

A review conducted by a team from the Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, on lap band surgery reveals that excess weight loss stood at 47.5% for gastric banding, 61.6% for gastric bypass, 68.2% for gastroplasty, and 70.1% for duodenal switch. Therefore, patients who need to lose more weight might want to consider other bariatric surgeries. Lap Band Surgery

A great deal of the safety and success of lap band surgery depends on the post-operative care. Gastric band patients should be willing to follow a disciplined lifestyle after the surgery, which includes proper diet and exercise. Therefore, people considering low cost lap band abroad would do well to understand the lifestyle changes they would be required to make, before taking the decision to fly abroad.

Contraindications for Lap Band Surgery

If the patient has co-morbidities like severe heart and lung problems or is under 18, lap band may not be a good choice. Other contraindications include inflammatory conditions in the gastrointestinal tract, pregnancy, cirrhosis, and alcohol/drug addiction.

Risks of Lap Band Surgery

As with any other surgery, gastric banding has some risks. Any individual considering lap band surgery must consider these risks and have a detailed discussion with his/her doctor.

The common risks associated with lap band surgery are:

  • Infections. Strict sterilization and post-operative co-operation on the patient’s part are both important to avoid infections after the surgery.
  • Success of the surgery also depends on how your body responds to foreign objects implanted in the body.
  • Slippage of band or its erosion or deflation may occur, and revision surgery may be required to correct that.
  • Improper placement of the band may cause obstruction of the stomach
  • Nausea, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, or loss of energy may occur due to this change in your digestive tract.
  • Tear in the wall of the stomach (gastric perforation), which will necessitate another surgery
  • Blood clots
  • Wound rupture

Most people today prefer laparoscopic gastric banding, which results in smaller scars and quicker recovery. However, there may be some risks associated with the use of laparoscopes. Some of them are:

  • Damage to the spleen/liver
  • Damage to major blood vessels
  • Accidental perforation of stomach or esophagus

If these occur, the surgeon might decide to ‘open’ the surgery site to complete the procedure.

In case alarmingly rapid weight loss occurs, you may have to get the band deflated and may require an additional surgery.

Other occasional risks of Lap Band

  • Dumping syndrome, a common side-effect of weight loss surgeries (symptoms include bloated feeling, diarrhoea, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, sweating and palpitations) is not generally observed after lap band surgery. However, it may occur in rare cases.
  • To avoid vomiting (emesis often accompanies lap band surgery), many people resort to high-calorie semi-liquid diet. This can lead to regaining of lost weight.
  • Malnutrition, anaemia, and depletion of vitamins. There is more chance of this happening if the weight loss is very rapid.
  • Blockage/swelling of the port site Risks of Lap Band Surgery
  • Incorrect positioning of the band, leading to stretching of the esophagus
  • Excessive inflation of the band
  • Enlargement or twisting of the stomach pouch
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Inflammation of stomach, a hernia-like situation where some part of the stomach slips above the diaphragm
  • Inflammation of pancreas
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence
  • Irregular/abnormal stools
  • Stomach upsets
  • Belching
  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Painful periods
  • Pain in the port site

Lap Band Risks Compared to other Bariatric Surgeries

The study by the Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota  puts operative mortality (death within 30 days of surgery) at 1 out of thousand (0.1%) for purely restrictive procedures like gastric banding, 5 out of thousand (0.5%) for gastric bypass and 11 out of thousand (1.1%) for duodenal switch. 

Why Follow-up is Crucial after Gastric Banding?

Post-surgery care and follow-up are essential for the success of lap band surgery. Not only must the patient be ready to follow the prescribed diet and exercise habits, but regular visits to the lap band surgeon and other health care experts including dietician are necessary too. The surgeon will make periodic adjustments to the band so it makes the correct fit. If you are lacking in essential nutrition, you will need to make changes accordingly. These measures will help to minimize side effects, detect serious problems if there are any, and optimize your weight loss.

Some people regard lap band surgery as a less drastic measure compared to gastric bypass surgery, where mortality rates are said to be 1 out of 200. On the other hand, we saw that weight loss rates are lower for lap bands, compared to gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries. Lap band should be considered only as a tool in implementing more discipline to your eating habits.

One must consider all the risks associated with lap band surgery and assess follow-up arrangements before making a decision on the potentially life-changing gastric banding.