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The Consequences of an Overfilled Lapband

Updated on September 18, 2010

Between 1954 and 2001, weight loss surgery was dangerous, invasive, and required hospital stays of up to five days. According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), in laparoscopic biliopancreatic diversion--one of four surgeries available before 2001--up to 25 percent of cases experienced major complications with up to 7.6 percent ending in fatalities. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Lap-Band system in 2001.


An adjustable gastric band lowers the possible risks of gastrointestinal stapling and is completely reversible.

According to a 2008 SAGES report, about 24 percent of all weight-loss operations worldwide used modifiable bands. Only 0.2 percent of patients experience major complications and up to 0.4 percent die.

Follow-up adjustments to the band are typically an in-office procedure. The physician utilizes an access port on the band for adjustments. Using a special syringe, the physician adds saline to add volume or removes saline to decrease the band’s volume. The band’s volume controls hunger by widening or narrowing the stomach near the gastroesophageal junction.

Overfilled Band

If the band is too tight, the esophagus can stretch or dilate. Swallowing can be painful and difficult. Food may regurgitate causing sleep disturbance, night cough and wheezing. It can also lead to excess vomiting.

Obstructions caused by the band can block fluids and solid food. The food may sit in the lower esophagus or the gastric pouch. According to the Lap-Band Central website, a patient may seek foods that can slip by the obstruction. These foods include milk, ice cream, chocolate, yogurt, pureed foods and snack foods that crumble such as potato chips. Swelling, food, improper band placement, over-inflation, band or stomach slippage or stomach pouch twisting or enlargement can cause obstructions.

The patient can lose weight too quickly. Rapid weight loss can result in gallstones and make it necessary for gallbladder removal.

Other Complications

An adjustable band, its reservoir or the tubing that connects them can leak and spontaneously deflate. Bands may slip or erode into the stomach. The stomach can slip, the pouch can enlarge or the stoma or stomach outlet can become blocked.

According to Lap-Band Central, the two biggest issues caused by patients are overeating and eating too quickly. These eating habits cause the stomach pouch to stretch and lead to band slippage or symmetrical enlargement. A new operation may be necessary to repair the damage. Binge eating and excessive vomiting may cause the esophagus to stretch or dilate.

SAGES’ website states that heavy breads and whole meats may always cause difficulty swallowing or regurgitation. It recommends limiting simple sugars and fats and maintaining physical activity.


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