Potential Risks and Complications of the Lap-Band

Lap-Band surgery is a new type of bariatric weight loss surgery that's safer and less invasive than many earlier types of weight loss surgery. However, like any surgery, the Lap-Band procedure carries risks and the possibility of complications. You should be aware of the possible dangers of Lap-Band or any surgery before you undergo the procedure.

Risk of Death

Any surgery carries a risk of death due to complications during surgery, and the Lap-Band procedure is no exception. However, since 2001, when the Lap-Band surgery was approved for use in the United States, there have been very few deaths and the death rate is less than one percent. Look for an experienced surgeon who has performed the surgery at least one hundred times; the more experienced the surgeon, the greater your safety and the greater the chances that the procedure will be a success.

Common Complications of the Lap-Band Procedure

The most common problem that occurs after the Lap-Band procedure is a change in the size of the stomach pouch isolated above the band. The band can slip, allowing the pouch to enlarge. The walls of the pouch may stretch, which can also lead to enlargement of the pouch.

Another common complication associated with Lap-Band is erosion into the stomach. The band can actually wear a hole through the outside of the stomach and find its way inside the stomach.

One of the most common problems that Lap-Band patients face post surgery is known to surgeons as productive burping. Productive burping occurs when patients regurgitate food trapped in the upper pouch (the pouch created by the insertion of the Lap-Band). Productive burping shouldn't cause any irritation of the esophagus or throat because the regurgitated food has not yet had contact with the acid in the stomach (the upper pouch will not contain stomach acid). However, productive burping is not normal and you should address this problem with your doctor when you see him during follow up exams.

Some additional risks and complications associated with the Lap-Band surgery include:

  • Reflux
  • Vomiting
  • Band leakage
  • Dehydration
  • Failure to lose weight
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Intestinal blockage at the stomach outlet
  • Gastritis
  • Weight gain
  • Ulceration
  • Nausea
  • Gas bloat
  • Regaining weight lost

However, unlike other types of bariatric weight loss surgery, Lap-Band is reversible. If complications occur and become severe, the gastric band can be removed, eliminating the problems caused by the procedure. Lap-Band patients should continue to visit their doctors regularly after the procedure.

Risks of Obesity

Many medical professionals feel that the risks of obesity far outweigh the risks associated with Lap-Band and other forms of bariatric weight loss surgery. At least one quarter of Americans are obese and a further 100 million Americans are overweight and at risk for developing obesity.

Those who weight twice their ideal body weight, or 100 pounds more than their ideal body weight, are considered morbidly obese and at risk for a range of serious weight related health problems. Illnesses associated with obesity include diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer. Obesity also leads to joint problems, sleep apnea, hypertension and respiratory disorders.

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