Patients who struggle with obesity may benefit from medically supervised weight loss programs, which should be discussed with a physician. In cases when diet and exercise are not successful, surgery is an option to be considered. There are different types of weight loss surgery that can be performed according to patients’ specific health characteristics and needs.

The Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System is one of several weight loss surgical methods and consists of the placement of a plastic adjustable band around the upper part of the stomach. The system will then reduce the capacity of the stomach, which means that patients will feel full faster and with smaller amounts of food, without altering the normal digestive tract. There are, however, some risks associated with the treatment, and patients should research possible Lap-Band side effects.

Possible Lap-Band Side Effects Caused By Surgery

Just like any other surgery, there are risks associated with undergoing bariatric surgery to place the Lap-Band system. Potential Lap-Band side effects include damage to the spleen or liver, which can occur due to the need to remove the spleen, damage to major blood vessels, lung problems, blood clots (thrombosis), tearing or infection of the wound, and tearing of the stomach or esophagus during surgery, according to the producer of the band, Apollo Endosurgery.

Death is also among the risks associated with Lap-Band surgery, but it is extremely rare, occuring in only about 0.006% of all patients — the equivalent of one in 17,000 during 15 years of use. These patients are particularly at risk of suffering surgical complications since they are obese and in the majority of the cases also suffer from other serious underlying medical conditions. However, the experience of the surgeon conducting the surgery and the certification of the medical center can help decrease the risk of side effects.

Side Effects Associated With the Lap-Band System

In addition to the side effects from the surgery, there are also some potential risks related to the system itself. Patients may throw up (vomit) or cough up just-eaten food (regurgitation), which occurs in 51% of the cases of patients with a BMI of 40 or greater and 29% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40. Difficulties swallowing (dysphagia) happens to 9% of patients with a BMI 40 or greater and to 22% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40. Similarly, 34% of patients with a BMI of 40 or greater and 15% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40 experience gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Nausea is experienced by 51% of patients with a BMI of 40 or greater, but only to 5% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40, while indigestion or upset stomach (dyspepsia) is experienced by 0.7% of people in the first group and 5% of patients in the second one. Pain in the abdomen is experienced by 27% or 5% of the patients respectively, and pain following the surgical procedure to implant the Lap-Band occurs in 5 to 19% of patients and pain in the incision site in about 5% of all patients.

Leaks in the Lap-Band are also possible, but only occurr in 0.85% of the patients. In addition, the new stomach pouch may stretch (pouch dilatation) after surgery, which occurs in 24% of patients with a BMI of 40 or greater, and 1% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40. Lap-Band slips (moves from its original position) after surgery happen in 24% of patients with a BMI of 40 or greater and 1% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40, while Lap-Band erosion into the lining of the stomach is a side effect in 1% of patients with a BMI of 40 or greater and 0.7% of patients with a BMI between 30 and 40. 2% and 1% of the patients, respectively, experience stretching of the esophagus (esophageal dilatation).

How to Reduce the Risks of Suffering Lap-Band Side Effects

In the case of Lap-Band side effects like band erosion or slippage, the physician may recommend additional surgery to correct the problem or prevent further complications. Bariatric surgery and the Lap-Band system are safe, but patients need to be aware of the effort that needs to be made following the surgery. Patients will have to follow their physician’s recommendations, and dietary, exercise and life-style plans. Lack of patient compliance is often the reason for the development of side effects.

In addition, there are also indications about who should and should not undergo this type of treatment. Patients who suffer from a disease or condition, such as severe heart or lung disease, who have problems in the throat (esophagus), stomach, or intestine, who are pregnant, or who are addicted to alcohol or drugs are poor candidates to Lap-Band surgery. Patients need to be older than 18 years and discuss these or other medical problems and situations with their physicians to avoid potential side effects.

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