The Lap band was a very popular bariatric procedure mostly because it was the least invasive weight loss surgery, it was a reversible procedure and had good weight loss results. Thousands of Lap bands were placed to help patients control their weight all over the world since 2003. There are many patients that have had a band inside for over decade!
You may be wondering what to do about your lap band after so many years. Here are our recommendations:
- Have your Lap band checked via a barium swallow x-ray yearly even if you are not experiencing any problems with it.
- Have your band checked via an endoscopy every 2 years. Certain issues with your band may only be seen by endoscopy, especially in the early stages.
It is important to remember that the band is a foreign object that was always intended to be removed at one point. It was never intended to be a permanent procedure. 10 years was the estimated lifetime of the band, after 10 years it is recommended that you have it removed before you start experiencing problems with this foreign object tin your body.
Possible problems with your band, with and without symptoms.
- Erosion: An erosion happens when the band starts migrating into the stomach.
This may be a silent erosion where you do not experience any symptoms.
In other cases, there are symptoms like problems in the port area like infection, pain, port coming through the skin, etc.
- Slippage:The band moves from its original placement causing the stomach to move up through the band.
Again, your band may have slipped without any symptoms showing up yet.
Symptoms of a slipped band is constant vomiting, having trouble keeping food and/or liquids down, excessive acid reflux among others.
- Esophageal problems: In some cases, patients start using the esophagus as a reservoir, not limiting this function to the pouch. This causes the esophagus to enlarge and this usually causes excessive acid reflux and weight gain.
2 Reasons why you may not want to remove your band:
- Your band is still helping you control your weight. You may still be experiencing restriction with your band and are afraid that removing it will make you gain weight. This is a very accurate assumption, removing the band will most likely cause weight gain. In this case, the recommendation is to convert to a different bariatric procedure at the time of the removal. This can be done in a single procedure most of the time.
- Your band is not giving you restriction or helping you control your weight but it is not giving you any problems either so you do not want to go through what you may consider and unnecessary surgery.
In both cases, if you have had your band for a long time (over 7 years), our recommendation is to have it removed BEFORE it becomes an emergency situation. The band will have to be removed eventually and some band complications force you to have it done immediately without giving you time to plan for surgery and recovery. Other complications may make it impossible to have another procedure done at the same time. For example, having an eroded band makes it impossible for you to convert to a gastric sleeve at the same time and possibly may not be able to get one done ever, it depends on the severity of the erosion.
At Mexicali Bariatric Center we are happy to do a free evaluation of a barium swallow x-ray or endoscopy to check your band. You may contact our office for the best method of sending studies for an evaluation. Toll-Free 1 (888) 344 3916