Lap Band Health Risks
Risks for anesthesia are:
- Allergic reactions to medicines
- Breathing problems
Risks for surgery are:
- Blood clots in the legs that may travel to your lungs
- Blood loss
- Infection, including in the surgery site, lungs (pneumonia), or bladder or kidney
- Heart attack or stroke during or after surgery
Risks for gastric banding are:
- Gastric band erodes through the stomach (if this happens, it must be removed)
- Gastric band may slip partly out of place
- Gastritis (inflamed stomach lining), heartburn, or stomach ulcers
- Infection in the port, which may need antibiotics or surgery
- Injury to your stomach, intestines, or other organs during surgery
- Poor nutrition
- Scarring inside your belly, which could lead to a blockage in your bowel
- Your surgeon may not be able to reach the access port to tighten or loosen the band (you would need minor surgery to fix this problem)
- The access port may flip upside down, making it impossible to access (you would need minor surgery to fix this problem)
- The tubing near the access port can be accidentally punctured during a needle access. If this happens the band cannot be tightened (you would need minor surgery to fix this problem)
- Vomiting from eating more than your stomach pouch can hold
Before the Procedure
Your surgeon will ask you to have tests and visits with your other health care providers before you have this surgery. Some of these are:
- Blood tests, ultrasound of your gallbladder, and other tests to make sure you are healthy enough to have surgery
- Classes to help you learn what happens during the surgery, what you should expect afterward, and what risks or problems may occur
- Complete physical exam
- Nutritional counseling
- Visit with a mental health provider to make sure you are emotionally ready for major surgery. You must be able to make major changes in your lifestyle after surgery.
- Visits with your doctor to make sure other medical problems you may have — such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart or lung problems — are under control
If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking several weeks before surgery and not start smoking again after surgery. Smoking slows recovery and increases the risk of problems. Tell your doctor or nurse if you need help quitting.
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
- If you are or might be pregnant
- What drugs, vitamins, herbs, and other supplements you are taking, even ones you bought without a prescription
During the week before your surgery:
- You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), vitamin E, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
- Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
On the day of your surgery:
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery.
- Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
After the Procedure
You will probably go home the day of surgery. Many patients are able to begin their normal activities 1 or 2 days after going home. Most people take 1 week off from work.
You will stay on liquids or mashed-up foods for 2 or 3 weeks after surgery. You will slowly add soft foods, then regular foods, to your diet. By 6 weeks after surgery, you will probably be able to eat regular foods.
The band is made of a special rubber (silastic rubber). The inside of the band has an inflatable balloon. This allows the band to be adjusted. You and your doctor can decide to loosen or tighten it in the future so you can eat more or less food.
The band is connected to an access port that is under the skin on your belly. The band can be tightened by placing a needle into the port and filling the balloon (band) with water.
Your surgeon can make the band tighter or looser any time after you have this surgery. It may be tightened or loosened if you are:
- Having problems eating
- Not losing enough weight
- Vomiting after you eat
The final weight loss with gastric banding is not as large as with gastric bypass. The average weight loss is about one-third to one-half of the extra weight you are carrying. This may be enough for many patients. Talk with your doctor about which procedure is best for you.
The weight will usually come off more slowly than with gastric bypass. You should keep losing weight for up to 3 years.
Losing enough weight after surgery can improve many medical conditions you might also have, such as:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
Weighing less should also make it much easier for you to move around and do your everyday activities.
This surgery alone is not a solution to losing weight. It can train you to eat less, but you still have to do much of the work. To lose weight and avoid complications from the procedure, you will need to follow the exercise and eating guidelines that your doctor and dietitian gave you.