Lap Band Erosion &
Options If It Happens to You
Lap band erosion, also called lap band migration, happens when the band actually grows into the stomach. It occurs in as few as 2% and as many as 9.5% of patients, and the treatment is always the permanent removal of the band. If it happens to you, you may still have a few options…
If your gastric band is growing into your stomach, it will no longer be restricting food from passing through. As a result, the primary symptoms will be increased feelings of hunger and weight gain.
But how can you know if the weight gain is caused by erosion, the need for a band fill or your bariatric diet?
First, it takes a while for erosion to happen. On average, lap band erosion is diagnosed almost 2 years after surgery, so if it has only been a year or less since your surgery this is not likely to be your problem.1
The most common symptoms other than increased hunger and weight gain are...
However, it is possible that you won’t experience any symptoms at all other than weight regain.
If you notice increased feelings of hunger, weight gain or symptoms of infection, call your doctor right away.
If during your next fill you notice that your band is being overfilled (compared with previous fills), ask you doctor if it could be a sign of erosion.
Your doctor can confirm the lap band erosion diagnosis by inserting a scope through the mouth and into the stomach to take a direct look (also called an “endoscopy”).
Patients who experience lap band erosion have the same amount of weight loss as patients who do not experience it.1 In other words, if it happens to you it does not mean that all you went through was for nothing.
"Patients who experience erosion have the same amount of weight loss as patients who do not experience it."
While you would need to have the band removed if erosion has occurred, converting to a different type of bariatric surgery is effective. Conversions have also been found to have much better results than rebanding.2
Common conversion procedures include:
Conversion to the duodenal switch usually results in a bit more weight loss than gastric bypass, but this comes at a risk of a significantly longer operation time and much higher complication rate.3
Several studies suggest that gastric bypass is the safer conversion alternative, but partner with good bariatric doctors to make the choice that’s right for you. Following a conversion surgery, you should continue to lose weight or, at a minimum, not experience any more weight gain.
Your Surgeon... Time for Someone New?
If you were happy with your first experience and are confident about your surgeon's expertise and qualifications, stick with them.
However, if you're unsure, get a second opinion. Initial one-one-one consultations with a new surgeon are usually free. Best case, you'll find a better surgeon with better outcomes. Worst case, you'll feel better about your decision to stick with the same surgeon.
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- M. Suter, V. Giusti, E. Héraief, and J.-M. Calmes, “Band erosion after laparoscopic gastric banding: occurrence and results after conversion to Roux-en-Y gastric bypass,” Obesity Surgery, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 381–386, 2004.
- Muller MK, Attigah N, Wildi S, et al. High secondary failure rate of rebanding after failed gastric banding. Surg Endosc. 2008;22:448–53.
- Topart P, Becouarn G, Ritz P. Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch or gastric bypass for failed gastric banding: retrospective study from two institutions with preliminary results. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2007 Sep-Oct;3(5):521-5.
- Marina Kurian, Sammy Sultan, Karan Garg, Heekoun Youn, George Fielding, Christine Ren-Fielding. Evaluating gastric erosion in band management: An algorithm for stratification of risk. Surgery for obesity and related diseases : official journal of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, 21 December 2009 (Article in Press DOI: 10.1016/j.soard.2009.11.020)
[Last editorial review/modification of this page: 1/24/2012]