Questions About Switching from Lap Band to Sleeve

Question Below Submitted By:  

Liz (a patient from New York)

I'm the one on the left lol

I'm the one on the left lol

Three years ago I had a lap band put in and did relatively well. I had back surgery and gained almost 100 lbs during the ordeal. I had never been grossly overweight until then. I lost 80 lbs slowly and kept it off.

I recently started having terrible reflux and some weight starting creeping on. During my visit to the doctor and radiologist it was discovered that my band was being pulled down by the cording (if that’s the correct terminology).

I underwent some surgery to release it in hopes of it moving back. It moved slightly but it’s sort if on its side and not correct.

My weight is 149 and I’m 5’3″. I was 140 before this band issue and that was livable. Going to the gym at least 3-4 x a week.

Now I’ve been told I can just take it out which scares me; I really don’t want to go back to nothing I think my mind is damaged from getting so heavy.

I’ve been told I can put a new band in or consider the sleeve. The sleeve made me nervous being it’s so permanent but the more I read about it the better I feel.

My question is: My food intake was restricted with the band and I could not eat certain types of food. With the sleeve is it the same feeling?

I don’t need to lose more them 20 lbs and then I can just maintain. Certain foods couldn’t pass thru the band and I realize that’s not the case with the sleeve.

Is the size of the stomach the same with the sleeve vs the stomach with a band?

Also since I had the surgery to try to fix the band I have terrible back pain and stomach issues. Very new and haven’t had for years. Have you ever heard complaints of back pain weeks after surgery?

I am concerned and feel that the band or damage it may be causing inside is related to my back.

Thanks for having this site available,


Expert Responses to the Question Above

Response to Switching from Lap Band to Sleeve

by: John Rabkin, M.D., Pacific Laparoscopy


The band you have in is malfunctioning and should be removed.

It quite possibly is causing or exacerbating your back pain.

The option of converting to a vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a very good option for you that many patients in a similar situation have taken advantage of.

Most patients find that after converting to the sleeve, their food tolerances are improved c/w when they had the band in place.

Also, they can enjoy a more varied diet.

The size of the stomach 'pouch' is bigger after the sleeve than after a band (typically 2 to 3 ounces vs 1 to 2 ounces).

Over time with either procedure, the pouch typically enlarges. I think that you'll be very satisfied after conversion to a sleeve gastrectomy and that many of your symptoms will improve.

John Rabkin,
M.D. Pacific Laparoscopy

(click here for Dr. Rabkin's full bio & contact info)

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

Related Pages:
- Types of Bariatric Surgery
- Analysis & Cost of Lap Band Surgery (“Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band”)
- Analysis & Cost of Gastric Sleeve Surgery (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy or Vertical Gastrectomy)


Patient Responses to the Question Above


by: Anonymous

I have terrible heartburn from the band being in a bad place. I am waiting for the approval of the sleeve before removal of the band being I don't want two surgeries. For me bypass is too extreme I will go with the sleeve. My only worry is heartburn! Good luck

band to sleeve?

by: Anonymous

I have done extensive research regarding band conversion to sleeve. Many articles do not commend this, stating bypass is better after the band. I lost 30lb. with the band, and the surgeon says possibly 30 more with the sleeve.

I am a 68 yr. old female, which greatly worries me. There are no problems with my band, but weight loss stopped, and am regaining now. I guess I am just scared, frustrated, and fearful the sleeve will also fail, besides it being permanent!

I also have varicose veins and concerned about clots, leaks, GERD, cancer, and gall bladder removal. I cannot seem to make the right decision.

Changing from Band to Sleeve

by: Eppsy

I received my band over 5 years ago.

I've lost 90 lbs, but I'm at a stand still.

I've only had probably 6 fills since I've had the surgery. I had a bad experience once.

My port is in a strange spot so I always have to have my fill under the x-ray machine.

The lady kept pushing and pushing and finally she said, "oops". The needle bent. That scared me to death. I didn't go back for almost a year and a half. They reached out to me and I told them what had happened. They assured me she was gone, but the fright is still there. I have two great ladies now that take care of me when I go to a fill.

The last fill I received became REALLY tight. I had 5 cc's. I have never had to go back but I did this time. They took out 3 cc's. I was waking up at night and food was coming up.

I wasn't getting much in my system. I started having really bad leg cramps. They said my band was really stretched.

The tech asked me if I had thought about getting the sleeve. I don't want to make a career of having weight loss surgeries but I know I need assistance. It's hard to do on my own. What are the pro and cons of switching? I liked the idea that the band was reversible.

removing band and getting Gastric sleeve??

by: Liz

I had the Lap Band put in about 7 years ago... I've had a few minor problems but nothing too serious; however I have only lost a total of 8 kilos in the space of 7 years with regular gains and losses... I have been reading into getting the switch to the sleeve and feel like I'm ready emotionally to go through the whole procedure again.

My only question is that can I get this done through the public system as I was able to go private with the lap band due to my financial situation but at this point I can not possibly afford to pay for it????

Losing my band :-(

by: Kimberly

I'm getting my band taken off on Friday and I'm very, very upset. I've had it for 12 years! It worked beautifully! These past 5 months, I've had HORRIBLE acid reflux that has come up into my throat causing me to cough and clear my throat constantly.

I thought about aspire assist but it's just a little too messy for me. I'm 4'11 and weight 147. I only have 20 more pounds to lose to be at a healthy weight. If I get the sleeve, will I lose much? I'm so torn as to what to do.

Band to Sleeve Conversion -- Pleasantly Surprised.

by: Allie09

I just had the band taken out last Friday and a sleeve put in.

I'd found out 3 weeks ago that after 10 years my band had slipped. The worst part was the worry for three weeks before surgery about losing most of my stomach. I am 5'7" and weigh 169 so I only have about 20 lbs to lose as well. It was a smooth operation and I've had no nausea and no stomach pain whatsoever. I can drink normally as well, not just small sips.

It was outpatient and I was walking to the bathroom by myself the evening of the surgery. I thought I'd be still freaking out about the stomach loss but it has not been an issue at all--not sure why. The double surgery was actually less painful than when they put in my lap band -- go figure. I think the hardest part is the pre-op and post-op liquid diet -- I'd give anything to munch on a cracker! I still have 10 more days to go on it.

Because I'm on liquids it's hard to know how at this point how successful the sleeve will be, but from my research the future looks promising. With doctor's consent I have been drinking fresh green veggie juices pre-op and added watermelon juice post-op as well as fiber powder to my protein shakes. I think the fresh juices have really helped in my bouncing back so fast.

Good luck to you!

band to sleeve conversion then gastric bypass

by:  Nancy

I'm 5'4 and ballooned up to 200lbs after 20 years of marriage. I was 125 when we married, but having an available eating partner helped me lose sight of what was happening.

Initially, the lap band seemed like the perfect solution. I had the band put in 10 years ago. I was having a difficult time adjusting to the right fill for my band. I did everything I could to make it work and did lose 40lbs. However, I could no longer eat more than 1/4 of a light sandwich. I drank a lot of Isopure to get my protein in. I was consistently burping up saliva and then eventually would throw up. This was extremely difficult to deal with.

Finally, after 3 years I, had all of the fluid removed from the band and resumed eating as before, slowing gaining the weight back. A year later I heard about the Sleeve, I thought maybe this was exactly what would work for me. In fact, my insurance approved the surgery within 10 days (less than the amount of time to be approved for the lap band).

So 4 years after having the lap band put in, and it was still in me, I was heading into surgery to have the Sleeve. It was decided by my surgeon to remove the band at the same time as the surgery for the sleeve. That was in 2011. I was delighted. At first.

Then I found that I was dealing with severe acid reflux. As time went on, I would be in so much pain from the reflux that it would make me vomit almost every day. Many times I hadn't even eaten anything so it was total acid coming out.

Seven months ago, my new surgeon realized after several tests that my stomach was now hour glass shaped due to having the lap band removed at the same time I converted to the sleeve. This was why my reflux was in such a horrible state and I now had a hiatal hernia. I was 100% headed for esophageal cancer.

Another surgery was scheduled to try to fix the stomach problems, well, guess what? There was so much scar tissue that it couldn't be fixed. Yes, the hernia was repaired, but the acid reflux was just as bad as ever, if not worse. Now I would get up every morning with the dry heaves lasting several minutes. If I felt an acid nauseated feeling coming on, I had to run to the closest waste basket or carry a plastic bag with me at all times, because it happened so fast. I felt like a burglar taking home all vomit bags from any flight I went on. I had to carry them in the car because I would be driving on the freeway and within 3 to 4 seconds of the acid feeling, I was vomiting.

It didn't matter if I had eaten 20 minutes before or 6 hours before. It was out of control. Last ditch effort was a gastric bypass. Now let me tell you, the gastric bypass was suggested by my surgeon when I had the last surgery to correct the problem but I felt it was way too extreme of a route to go. I had the gastric revision bypass last week. I am sitting here with a tube wrapped around my insides with a grenade ball hanging out of me.

I am not in pain but scared about where this will end up. I am worried I will lose way too much weight and I don't want to look like a wrinkled up possum. I have zero desire to lose 35 lbs to be at my weight 30 years ago. However, due to the HUGE AMOUNT OF SCAR TISSUE that had to be stomach is now the size of an egg! And that really scares me. I trust my current surgeon 100% and would recommend him to anyone. He is not the original surgeon that put in the lap band and then later removed the lap band and gave me the sleeve surgery at the same time.

It's fairly certain having both surgeries done at the same time is why I ended up in this position. I'll try my hardest to make the best of it since I've been told that there is a 98% chance I will never have to deal with acid reflux again. But I will forever have to eat only 1/4 cup of food at a time.

10 yrs with Band, issues now, wanting the sleeve

by: Jane

I was extremely over with knee issues and had lap band surgery 8/2/07. I say it’s my second birthday because it was a life changing experience. Lost 80 lbs but in the last year I have gained 25 lbs back and developed reflux so bad when I wake up in the morning that it sounds like I have smoker's cough.

Barium swallow test shows a pouch (I have had them before but I think it's huge but been told not that bad) but they are concerned it will affect the size of my esophagus. My PPO and Digestive Specialist both recommend the same sleeve doctor. Their nurse said when scheduling my first visit that I have to have my band removed, wait it out, go through all the steps of insurance and HOPEFULLY they approve the sleeve surgery.

I am in Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex area (Mansfield) looking for 2nd opinions.

Band to Sleeve

by: Tasha

I am in the same boat. Band needs to come out after 13 years and DR suggests the sleeve. I am just scared of the idea of it being permanent and the issues that can come from it. I am working on second and third opinions.

Band to sleeve

by: Kathy

Hi, I’m just concerned about insurance. My band was covered completely. I’m not sure if they would pay for a revision from a band to a sleeve?

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