Immediate risks of the gastric band procedure
As with any surgery there are potential operative complications and risks including:
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia and/or medication
- Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in the legs)
- Pulmonary embolus (blood clot on the lungs)
Longer-term problems and complications
There is a certain amount of wear and tear with the gastric band and most studies suggest that at some point in the lifetime of the band, between 5-10% of patients will require additional surgery. The three main gastric band problems that may occur are slippage, erosion and tubing/access port problems.
This may occur because there has been upward slippage (prolapse) of the stomach wall through the gastric band or because the stomach pouch has stretched so that more stomach sits above the gastric band than normal. Both occur in circumstances where the volume of food taken is too large or where it is eaten too quickly. With good surgical placement and careful post-op follow-up, band slippage should occur in less than 4% of patients though some studies have reported rates as low as 0.26%.
It is possible for the gastric band to work its way through the stomach wall so that it actually lies within the stomach. This is known as “erosion” or “band migration” and is very rare, occurring in less than 0.5% of cases. It requires removal of the band.
The tubing connecting the access port to the gastric band around the stomach can occasionally break or be punctured by the needle when fluid is added to the system. However, these problems are unlikely to occur due to improvements in gastric band design. In one recent study of 1,014 patients only 12 (1.15%) experienced tubing/port problems.
Healthier Weight study of Gastric Band patients over a 12 year period