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Gastric Banding:

Facts and Complications

The History

Approved by the FDA in June 2001, the gastric banding is one of the least invasive treatments for morbid obesity in the United States.  It induces weight loss by reducing the capacity of the stomach, which restricts the amount of food that can be consumed.  Since its clinical introduction in 1993, almost 150,000 Lap-Band procedures have been performed around the world, more than 30,000 of which were in the US. 

Complications Specific to Gastric Banding

Adverse Events: Placement of the gastric band is major surgery and, as with any surgery, death can occur. Possible causes include the risks associated with the medications and methods used during surgery, the risks associated with any surgical procedure, and infection due to a foreign object having been implanted in the body. Please read the risks of surgery in the FAQ section of the website to have a better understanding of the whole picture. Some of the complications that are unique to the gastric banding are:

  • Band Slippage- the lower part of the stomach can slide under the band and balloon out over the top of the band. If the blood supply to the stomach is cut off, this can be a life-threatening emergency. Band repositioning or removal is necessary, depending on the degree of damage.
  • Band Erosion- the band can tear through the stomach wall over time and removal is then necessary.
  • Infection of the implant (band)- The band is a foreign body, and as such, may become infected.  Re-operation with possible removal of the band may be required.
  • Port Complications- The access port that is used to inject saline into the band may break, become infected, twist upside down, etc., requiring operation with possible removal.
  • Dilation of the stomach and/or esophagus above the band - Surgical removal of the band is often necessary to treat this.
  • Hiatal Hernia- This is where the stomach dilates above the band and protrudes up into the chest. Re-operation and band removal may be required.
  • Severe Acid Reflux- This can be caused by various complications, and while deflation may relieve the problem, removal of the band may be necessary.

Not all contraindications or adverse events are included in this brief description. These should be discussed directly with Dr Ellner.

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