The Risks and Benefits of the Gastric Band

Since it’s introduction, the placement of the gastric band, aka the Lap-Band, has helped more than 350,000 people in their battle against obesity. The gastric band is a surgery and like any operation, this surgery has many advantages but also has some risks. Your surgeon is the best person to discuss the risks and benefits of this operation with, but the following information may prove helpful to you when considering if the gastric band is the right option for you:


In most cases, this procedure is done laparoscopically (tiny incisions); by using this minimally invasive technique, there are smaller incisions and minimal scarring, this surgery only takes about an hour and a half to perform.
This surgery offers shorter hospital stay, often performed on an outpatient basis or with an overnight hospital stay.
Minimal blood loss.
Fewer risks and side effects than other more invasive surgeries.
Studies indicate a 10 times lower short-term mortality rate than with gastric bypass surgery, the risk of death is 0.1%.
Lower risk of post-operative nutritional deficiencies.
Does not require the cutting, stapling or rerouting of intestines.
No dumping syndrome.
This device is adjustable which allows for personalized continuous care and most adjustments are made in the physician’s office.
The band was specifically designed for long-term use, however, it can be removed if necessary.
Has proven results that show co-morbid conditions are greatly improved or completely resolved in about 90% of all cases. Studies reported by the Lap-Band System show that:
Asthma is completely resolved in 34% of cases and is improved in 59% of all cases within one (1) year of surgery.
Hypertension is completely resolved in 44% of cases and 35% of cases show improvement within one (1) year of surgery.
Type 2 Diabetes is resolved in 64% of cases and improved in 26% of cases within one (1) year of surgery.
Sleep Apnea is resolved in 93% of cases within one (1) year of surgery.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD is resolved in 76% of cases and another 14% show improvement within two (2) years of surgery.

Weight loss is more gradual with the expected weight loss of one (1) to two (2) pounds per week. Studies have shown that weight loss is comparable to that obtained with the gastric bypass within five (5) years of surgery. The average is 55% excess weight loss two (2) years after surgery.


Weight loss is not as rapid as with other procedures.
Regular follow-up is required. Most programs require you to be seen initially at two (2) weeks following surgery and then every four (4) to six (6) weeks for the first year and then every three (3) months for the second year.
In certain instances, the band adjustment will require the use of radiographic equipment to locate and access the port.
Requires an implanted medical device.
In some cases, the band can slip or the access port may need minor revision due to leakage.


The gastric band is considered to be a bariatric surgery and the normal surgical risks include: infection, blood clots in the legs and/or lungs, bleeding, obstruction, injury to other organs, problems with anesthesia, dehydration, nausea and death (0.1%). Your surgeon should discuss the risks of this operation with you in great detail prior to your surgery.

Potential Post Surgical Complications

Prolapsed or slippage of the stomach under the band can occur in rare cases.
Obstruction, this can occur, but is rarely seen.
Band erosion (appears in less than 0.5%).
Tubing problems or leak in the system.
Port site infections overall incidence reports is estimated to be less than 1%.


Most patients can return to work within seven (7) to ten (10) days after this procedure and make a full surgical recovery in about two (2) weeks. Of course, if the band needs to be placed using the open technique (long incision) or you develop a complication your recovery time could be longer. Based on your lifestyle, your surgeon will be the best judge of when you may resume normal activities without restriction.

Roxanne Erdman

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