The laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) surgery, also known as Lap Band surgery, has been an important treatment in the fight against obesity in the U.S. since it was first introduced here more than a decade ago. While hundreds of thousands of patients have lost weight with gastric band surgery, the procedure has not been without problems. Results have been inconsistent and many patients have experienced complications. Consequently, there has been a significant increase in demand for lap band removal or lap band revision surgery in recent years.
About Gastric Band Surgery
Gastric band surgery is unique among the three main bariatric surgery procedures in that it requires an implant. (The other procedures, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass, use a patient’s own tissues to alter digestion.) The lap band procedure involves placing a silicon band around the stomach. The band is connected by a tube to a port just under the skin. To inflate the band, the surgeon accesses the port through the skin to add sterile saline solution. Inflating the band decreases the opening to the stomach and decreases the amount of food that can be consumed. This allows the patient to eat smaller portions and lose weight.
Gastric bands work well for some, but results have been inconsistent. Some patients simply do not lose enough weight. Other patients have complications such as:
- Band erosion
- Band slippage
- Acid Reflux
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Other esophageal problems
Options for patients who experience any of these complications are lap band removal or lap band revision surgery.
Lap Band Revision Surgery
Some patients with gastric band complications who have achieved their desired weight will choose to have the band removed. Those who have not lost enough weight will often choose to have revision surgery. This can be done with either a one or two-phase process to remove the band, and then perform another bariatric procedure, usually a sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) or gastric bypass.
How Lap Ban Works
If you are experiencing complications after your lap band surgery or have not lost enough weight, it’s best to consult a skilled weight loss surgeon to discuss your options. You do not have to go back to the doctor who performed your lap band surgery.
Dr. Preeti Malladi is an experienced bariatric surgeon in the Dallas area who performs lap band revisions and removals. She will review your medical history, discuss any complications, and listen to your concerns. Dr. Malladi and her team will work with you to determine which revision procedure(s) will work for you and whether or not a single or two-stage process is recommended.
Who is eligible for lap band removal or lap band revision?
If you have experienced inadequate weight loss (either poor initial results or subsequent weight gain) from your lap band, you are likely eligible for lap band revision surgery. Speak to an experienced weight loss surgeon about if conversion from lap band to gastric sleeve or gastric bypass may be right for you.
If you are experiencing complications (band erosion, band slippage, infection, food intolerance, esophageal dilation) with your lap band, you are also eligible for lap band removal and/or revision.
Lap Band Revision Recovery
Recovery time for your lap band revision surgery will vary greatly by procedure and by individual. Those who have a simple lap band removal will recover more quickly than those who go from a lap band to a gastric sleeve or bypass. Likewise, two individuals having identical revision procedures will most likely require differing lengths of time to recover fully. It may take longer for you to recover from your revision surgery than it did from your initial lap band surgery.
It’s important that you give yourself time to heal, get plenty of rest, and follow your surgeon’s postoperative instructions carefully. This will include following a liquid diet for the first several weeks to allow your stomach time to adjust to the changes that have been made.
You will gradually be able to incorporate solid foods just as you did after your first weight loss surgery. You will also be asked to move around a bit each day (rather than lying in bed) to prevent blood clots. You will be able to resume your exercise routine after you have healed. Your surgeon and their staff will review all of these instructions with you after surgery, and at your post-op follow up appointment.
How long is lap band removal surgery?
The length of time for lap band removal surgery will vary depending on what is included in the procedure. Generally speaking, lap band removal surgery alone, without the addition of another bariatric procedure takes between one and two hours.
Does insurance pay for lap band removal?
Yes, if your insurance covered your lap band surgery, then it will likely cover removal and possibly revision to another procedure. It’s best to contact your insurance company to verify coverage.
Do lap bands need to be removed?
Lap bands do not need to be removed unless there are complications such as band slippage or intolerance, food intolerance, esophageal erosion, band or port infection, or another complication.
What are signs that your lap band has slipped?
If your lap band has slipped, you may be experiencing abdominal pain, regurgitation, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, food intolerances, or difficulty swallowing.