My Bariatric Life: Potential Complications After Gastric Banding (LAP-BAND, Realize Band)
The Adjustable Gastric Band (AGB) procedure, which goes by brand names of LAP-BAND and Realize Band, is a type of weight-loss surgery considered relatively safe and which takes only about one hour to perform.
The procedure consists of decreasing the size of the stomach by affixing a silicone and Silastic band around the top portion of the stomach. An attached balloon is filled and unfilled with saline across the recovery period until an appropriate band tightness is determined. The principle behind gastric banding is that the reduces stomach size makes the patient feel full on less food.
The fee for AGB surgery can be less than other types of weight-loss surgery and the complications that partner the procedure are not as severe as those from other procedures. The drawback of the surgery, however, is that the complications can be numerous, as high as 26%. Full failure and removal of the band ranks among these complications.
Consider these potential complications after gastric banding:
The band itself can be a source of troubles. Band erosion is when the band grows into the stomach and can eventually wear a hole in the stomach wall. When the surgery was new, erosion was as high as 10% but is now down to about 1%. Should erosion occur, the band must be permanently removed.
Band intolerance is when the body simply cannot accommodate the intrusion of the band. Vomiting and excessive discomfort can result when this happens. Once again, relief is had only after the band is removed.
Lap band leaks are suspected when the patient feels a change in the amount of restriction. Leaks at the balloon are caused by needle punctures or factory weak points in the balloon. Leaks at the tube connection occur when there is a break in the tube next to the metal connector. Leaks at the body of the tube are caused by unintentional needle punctures. Port membrane leaks occur when the patient has received numerous fills or the improper needle is used for fills or adjustments. Surgery is normally required to repair leaks.
Band slippage is when the lower part of the stomach slips through the band, increasing the size of the pouch. Anterior slippage is when the front part of the stomach slides up through the band, and posterior slippage is when the back side of the stomach slides up through the band. Symptoms of band slippage are reflux, nausea, and vomiting. Slippage is remedied either by fluid removal or surgical repositioning.
Blood clots are a concern whereas overweight people are at higher risk for them following or during any kind of surgery.
Constipation is possible and is addressed by increasing water intake and taking fiber supplements.
Esophageal dilation is when the esophagus becomes enlarged because the band is too tight or incorrectly placed. Deflation of the band will remedy this problem.
Food trapping is when food becomes lodged in one of the openings in the digestive system. The problem is resolved by deflating the band entirely and allowing the food to pass.
Gallstones occur is as much as one-third of bariatric surgery patients due to the accelerated weight loss. The doctor can remove the gallbladder during surgery or prescribe bile salt supplements afterwards.
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects following weight-loss surgery and are experienced about 70% of the time. A doctor ordered bariatric diet will alleviate this problem.
Port problems are reported by about one in five of all gastric banding patients.
Port flip is when the band flips over. The problem is not particularly serious whereas a simple procedure can turn it back over.
Port leak is self-explanatory, and surgery is usually required to repair it.
Port infection can usually be resolved with antibiotics although band removal could be necessary.
Port dislocation is when the port moves from the original placement. A simple operation can fix this problem.
Gastric banding is considered a failure if the patient loses only 25-30% or less of their excess weight or if the band needs to be removed due to complications. Average weight loss after AGB is 40% of the excess weight.
Related article: Is Gastric Banding the Right Weight-Loss Surgery for You?
Related article: Types of Weight-Loss (Obesity) Surgery Procedures
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.