Medically Reviewed by:Dr. Vafa ShayaniBoard Certified Bariatric Surgeon
- Are almost never life-threatening (gastric band surgery has a survival rate of 99.9%)
- Include inadequate weight loss and potential complications
- May or may not require removal of the band
Read the sections below for everything you need to know about adjustable gastric band problems and complications.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Click on any of the topics below to jump directly to that section
- Lap-Band removal is required in fewer than 1 out of 10 patients
At around 0.1%, LAP-BAND® surgery has an extremely low mortality rate (death rate).
And fortunately, many of the complications are minor and are easily repaired, and the typical worst case is the removal of the band.
At 5 years post-op, LAP-BAND® removal is required in about 9% of patients (fewer than 1 out of 10) who maintain continued interaction with their surgical team and follow established guidelines closely (1).
Studies for Lap Band Problems & Complications
Following are the gastric banding mortality and complication rates from 5 separate studies for patients who did NOT necessarily maintain continued interaction with their surgical team and follow established guidelines closely.
|Studies||# of gastric banding patients in study||Mortality & Complication Rates||Year|
|Study F||714||Mortality – 0%|
Revisional procedure required – 50.4% (proximal enlargement (pouch dilation) -26%; band erosion-3.4%; port and tubing problems-21%).
STUDY NOTE: “The need for revision decreased as the technique evolved, with 40% revision rate for proximal gastric enlargements in the first 10 years, reducing to 6.4% in the past 5 years. The revision group showed a similar weight loss to the overall group beyond 10 years.”
|Study A||1,176||Mortality – 0.09%|
Major complications – 1%
All complications – 2.6%
|Study B||400||Mortality -0.25%|
All complications – 8.8%
|Study C||179||Mortality -0.56%|
Early complications – 2.8%
Late complications – 26%
4 Years – 82.1%
|Study E||190||Mortality – 0%|
All complications – 10.5%
- Failure is considered not losing enough weight and/or suffering from a complication that required removing your Lap-Band
There are 2 lap band problems that cause the surgery to be classified as a failure:
- Unsuccessful weight loss – “unsuccessful” carries a different definition with each surgeon, but in general a procedure is considered to be a failure if you lose 25 to 30% or less of your excess weight (in other words, if you’re 100 pounds overweight that would mean you lost 25 to 30 pounds or less).
- Complication(s) requiring the removal of the band.
Our LAP-BAND® Surgery Failure page will take you through the details.
READ THIS FIRST
Are you experiencing complications with your gastric band?
We highly recommend contacting your previous surgeon or a top LAP-BAND® revision surgeon to discuss the issues as soon as possible.
If you have not yet had weight loss surgery and are concerned about potential LAP-BAND® issues, remember that most surgeons offer free seminars and/or free one-on-one consultations that teach you about your options and their office’s specific results, which may vary widely from practice to practice.
Following is a complete list of potential LAP-BAND® problems. We have also included the percentage of patients who experience each when the information is available (where you see a range of percentages, multiple studies were found with varying results) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8).
Real-World Patient Experiences
It’s one thing to read about the potential list and general risks of complications, but it’s quite another to hear first hand how they can affect your life.
- Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) (11% of gastric banding patients) – a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol that leads to the inability to cease drinking, even after serious lifestyle, health, or legal issues.
- Band problems (1.1% – 18% of gastric banding patients)
- Band erosion (2.1% – 9.5%) – (also called “band migration”) occurs when the band actually grows into the stomach. The only treatment is permanent removal of the band. See our LAP-BAND® Erosion page for more information.
- Band intolerance – some patients’ bodies just can’t handle the band. After all, the band is a foreign object in your body. Band intolerance includes vomiting excessively or feeling uncomfortable all of the time. Permanent removal of the band is required in these cases.
- Band leak (1.1% – 4.9%) – patients can usually tell if their gastric banding system has a leak if their feelings of restriction decrease over time (thus increasing hunger) without the doctor unfilling the port. To determine whether you have a leak, your doctor may inject colored fluid and take an X-Ray to see if any of the colored fluid is present (from a leak) outside of the gastric banding system. Surgery is usually required to repair it.
- Band slippage (2% – 18%) – occurs when the lower part of the stomach “slips” through the band, creating a bigger pouch above the band. Either removing fluid (from the LAP-BAND®) or surgical repositioning is required to repair band slippage. Symptoms include vomiting and reflux, and it is diagnosed by drinking a dye and using X-Ray to observe it. The band placement technique used by the surgeon also makes a difference – between the perigastric technique (PGT) and the pars flaccida technique (PFT), the pars flaccida technique appears to have a much lower rate of slippage (up to 16% less often) (8) (9) (10).
- pulmonary embolism. Be sure to tell your doctor whether you or anyone in your family has a history of clotting. Smoking will increase your risk, so if you are a smoker it is recommended that you stop smoking as soon as possible before surgery – no later than two months out. For more information, see our Blood Clot Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention page.
- Bowel Function Changes – bowel function after LAP-BAND® surgery may change, including…
- Constipation– usually corrected by increasing the amount of water you are drinking and by taking fiber supplements such as Fiber-Stat’s liquid fiber supplement.
- Difficulty swallowing (also called “dysphagia”) – caused by eating too quickly, too much or not chewing food enough and can usually be fixed by avoiding these habits.
Also see Achalasia.
- esophagitis. While
bariatric surgery can cause GERD, the condition is also improved for many following bariatric surgery.
Several at-home treatments are effective, including avoiding certain foods and drinks (alcohol, citrus juice, tomato-based food and chocolate), waiting 3 hours before lying down after a meal, eating smaller meals and elevating your head 8 inches when you lay down. If these don’t work, your doctor may recommend/prescribe antacids to be taken after meals and before going to bed, H2 blockers or even Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI).
- Hiatal Hernia – a hernia in which an anatomical part (such as the stomach) protrudes through the esophageal hiatus (opening) of the diaphragm. Hiatal hernias can occur after restrictive procedures when food causes the smaller stomach to bulge and push through the diaphragm. It is not uncommon for an obese patient to already have a hiatal hernia before surgery. While a hiatal hernia can be a “contraindication” for surgery (reason that you may not be able to have the surgery), hiatal hernias can also be repaired during bariatric surgery.
- bariatric diet will typically fix or improve the problem. While in the hospital, receiving a larger amount of IV fluids at a faster rate may make you less likely to feel nauseous or vomit.
- infection. Obese patients are more likely to develop pneumonia post-surgery, so it is important that patients begin deep breathing and coughing exercises to prevent it. These exercises are much easier after laparoscopic surgery than after open surgery. Should pneumonia develop, it can be treated with antibiotics.
- Port problems (20.5% or about 1 in 5 gastric banding patients), including…
- Port flip/inversion or dislodgement (10.3%) occurs when the LAP-BAND® port (where fluids are taken out or added to the band) “flips over”. This is typically not a serious problem and a quick procedure can turn it back over.
- Port Leak (1.1% – 4.9%) – as with a band leak, patients can usually tell if their gastric banding system has a leak if their feelings of restriction decreases over time (thus increasing hunger) without the doctor unfilling the port. To determine if you have a leak, your doctor may inject colored fluid and take an X-Ray to see if any of the colored fluid is present (from a leak) outside of the gastric banding system. Surgery is usually required to repair it.
- Port or band infection (1.5% – 5.3%) – if port or band infection occurs, it is usually healed with antibiotics, but removal of the band or port may be necessary.
- Port dislocation (6.9%) – similar to a port flip, a port dislocation means that your port has moved from its original location. It can be fixed with a simple operation under local anesthesia.
See our Bariatric Surgery Complications page for a procedure by procedure comparison of complications along with what you need to do to minimize your risks. Our LAP-BAND® vs Gastric Bypass page provides a more specific comparison between the two most popular bariatric surgery procedures.
Health Risks of Obesity Vs. Risks of Weight Loss Surgery
When deciding whether the risks of complications and mortality are “worth it”, it is a good idea to evaluate the risks of not having surgery. See our Life after Weight Loss Surgery or Obesity Health Problems pages for more on this.
- You can read about the experiences of other gastric sleeve patients
- You Can "Ask the Expert"
Ask the Expert & Patient Experiences*
We would love to hear your experiences with LAP-BAND® problems and complications. Your insights are invaluable to making sure other people have the tools to meet their goals.
We would also be happy to answer any questions you may have about LAP-BAND® problems and complications.
Please use the form below to share your experience or ask a question.
Questions From Other Visitors*
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