In fact, no surgical procedure is free of risks, and lap band surgery is not an exception. However, this weight loss surgery is usually associated with minimal risks.
One of the popular bariatric weight loss surgeries, lap band procedure is minimally invasive, and does not involve any cutting or stapling of the digestive tract. During the procedure, an inflatable silicone ring is secured around the upper part of the stomach. As a result, a small pouch is formed and this pouch collects food, which is released gradually to the remaining part of the stomach. The ring has to be adjusted several times for obtaining the ideal position. This is done by deflating or inflating it with saline solution introduced through a port that is placed beneath the skin of the abdomen. It will take a few post-operative sessions to fix the ring in its optimal position.
As compared to a normal stomach, the pouch will hold very less quantity of food. So the rate of food consumption will reduce, and the person will experience a feeling of fullness, as the food is released from the pouch gradually. All these factors, along with a strict lap band diet, lead to weight loss. As compared to other bariatric surgeries, lap band procedure is said to be almost free of risks.
Though claimed to be free of risks, lap band surgery may sometimes cause certain complications, that can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. It has been observed that such incidents are mostly seen in highly obese people, with serious medical conditions. According to health experts, the chances of developing such complications increase with age. Lap band surgery risks can be categorized into three groups. One is risks related to surgery, as in any other surgical procedure. The second category deals with the risks associated with the band and its positioning. The third category is about the risks associated with long-term use of the band.
Related to Surgery
As in any other surgery, lap band procedure too has its own risks, like formation of blood clots, or tear on the stomach wall. Some people develop serious reactions to anesthesia, or other complications, that may sometimes result in death. Even the procedure of laparoscopy has its own set of risks. Such risks include chances of stomach or esophageal perforation. Laparoscopical surgical procedure may also cause harm to the nearby organs, like the liver, spleen, etc. Sometimes, the person may develop infection of the surgical site, and this causes immense pain and delay in recovery. In some cases, major blood vessels may get damaged during the procedure.
Related to the Band
Even though the band is said to be biocompatible, it may happen that your body identifies the band as a foreign object, and exhibits adverse reactions. Minor reactions, like nausea, heartburn, constipation, pain in abdomen, diarrhea, bloating, difficulty swallowing, dehydration, etc., may develop due to introduction of the band. Such reactions may resolve with time. The silicone ring may get deflated all of a sudden, increasing the size of the opening between the pouch and the remaining part of the stomach. It may sometimes cause enlargement of the pouch, as it slips from its position. The ring may erode into the stomach tissues and cause perforation. It may cause swelling of the surrounding tissues too. Some people may develop complications, like ulcers and gastritis.
Long-term Use of the Band
The lap band surgery is aimed at weight loss that is achieved through reduction in food intake. This may sometimes lead to malnutrition and related conditions (like hair loss), caused by vitamin deficiency. If the problems are related to the silicon ring or the port, another surgery may be required in some cases. Long-term risks include gallstones and gallbladder disease. The tube that connects the access port to the ring may get punctured due to stress or during adjustments, leading to complications.
In short, lap band surgery is not totally free of risks. When compared to other types of bariatric surgeries, the chances of lap band complications are very low. However, it is advisable to have a discussion with your surgeon, and understand the various aspects of this surgical procedure beforehand.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.