Gastric banding, or LAP-BAND surgery, is a notorious weight loss procedure with one of the highest complication rates in bariatric surgery. Hence the name, Adjustable Gastric Band works by placing a silicone band tightly around your upper stomach to restrict the amount of food intake and help curb overeating.

In 2010 the gastric band was the most popular in the United States, making up nearly 50% of all bariatric surgeries performed. Since it’s peak, the gastric band has nearly vanished, rarely performed by surgeons because it is considered outdated.

The possible benefits were overwhelmed by serious complications, ranging from;

  • Band Slippage
  • Band Intolerance
  • Band Erosion
  • Pouch Dilation
  • Complete failure
Gastric Lap Band Complications, Risks, and Side Effects

It’s important to talk with your doctors about any questions or concerns you may have regarding lap band possible difficulties before surgery. Surgeons working with Mexico Bariatric Center® do not recommend Lap-Band and only perform this procedure to rescue failed and unsuccessful surgeries including RNY bypass revision.

Why I Don't Recommend Lap Band-Gastric Lap Band Complications, Risks, and Side Effects

Gastric Band Slippage

One of the biggest risks associated with gastric banding is band slippage. Slippage occurs when a portion of the stomach slips through the silicone band by pressure built up from overeating or not the following post-op diet.


Some patients may not notice any symptoms when this complication occurs while others may experience heartburn, acid reflux symptoms, or significant pain.


This complication is remedied by removing fluid from the lap band or through the use of surgical repositioning. This can lead to a second operation.

Gastric Band Slippage-Lap Band Slipped
Gastric Band Erosion-Lap Band Complications

Gastric Band Erosion

According to the University of Southern California, band erosion results when the gastric banding system created during surgery grows into the stomach itself. This condition is sometimes referred to as band migration. Permanent removal of the lap band device is required to alleviate this complication.

The band can be removed laparoscopically by a Mexico experienced bariatric surgeon. In some severe occasions, the band needs to be removed endoscopically.

Gastric Band Pouch Dilation

This complication refers to the small stomach pouch that exists above the band. Over time, this pouch can stretch, which can lead to vomiting, acid reflux, and reduced food volume because the pouch becomes enlarged. Removing fluid from the band may relieve this problem. If this intervention is not useful, repositioning of the band may be required.

Esophagus stretching or dilation can also occur in patients. This is caused by binge eating, excessive vomiting, stoma obstruction, tight band, or improper placement of the band.

Gastric Band Pouch Dilation-Lap Band Complication
Gastric Band Erosion-Lap Band Complications

Gastric Band Leakage

A leak in the gastric banding system usually results in the feeling of decreased restriction and increased hunger even though the bariatric health professional hasn’t emptied the port. Surgery is commonly used to repair this complication.

Band intolerance

Some patients are unable to tolerate the placement of a lap band system. Frequent vomiting, gastric reflux issues, and discomfort despite multiple attempts to adjust the fluid levels within the port are an indication that a patient may be unable to tolerate this foreign object within their body. In this situation, the band will likely need to be surgically removed. Patients may want to consider alternative bariatric surgery options such as gastric bypass or gastric sleeve procedures.

Port or band infections

Infection is a possible complication of most invasive surgeries, and gastric banding is no exception. The good news is that if an infection of the port or banding system occurs, antibiotic treatment is frequently effective. There is also the possibility that the system could have to be surgically removed.

Port flip/inversion or dislodgment

This complication results when the lap band port flips over or migrates. This condition may occur if the locking mechanism does not engage properly during surgery or if the sutures aren’t secure enough to hold the port into place. The port can typically be easily repaired with a simple procedure performed under general anesthetic.

Hiatus hernia

This type of hernia occurs when a protrusion of the upper part of the stomach results due to a tear or weakness in the diaphragm. This condition is sometimes referred to as a hiatal hernia. Many obese patients may already have a pre-existing hiatus hernia before bariatric surgery though it can also occur after a band has been placed. Many surgeons will repair a hernia during the time of the bariatric procedure if it is pre-existing.

Pulmonary embolism

This possible complication can be life-threatening but is, fortunate, rare. Obese individuals do have an increased risk of developing blood clots when undergoing any surgery. A family history and the habit of smoking are additional risk factors related to the development of blood clots. A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that travels to the lungs and blocks the main artery of this essential organ or one its branches.

Bowel perforation

Bowel perforation can occur during surgery. A hole in the bowel can allow its contents to empty into the abdominal cavity. This can result in a systemic blood infection known as sepsis. Fortunately, the incidence of this complication is rare and perforations are frequently noted immediately so the repair can be performed.

Risks and Side Effects

Individuals over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of developing serious risks and side effects caused by gastric banding. Fortunately, most of the problems associated with it are easily repaired, revised, or converted into another surgery.

Lap Band Revision Surgery After Complication

Some of the side effects of lap band include ulcers, acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, nausea, vomiting, gastritis, inflammation, difficulty swallowing, dehydration, weight gain, constipation, organ damage, respiratory problems, wound ruptures, deep vein thrombosis, stomach perforation, and death.

One of the most dangerous complications to look for is a stomach obstruction. The over-inflated band can cause this, stomach or band slippage, improper placement of the band, food, swelling or stomach pouch enlargement, or twisting.


Mexico Bariatric Center has essentially stopped doing this procedure and is revising lap bands on a regular basis. If you have a lap-band and have not reached your desired weight loss, it’s in your best interest to remove and revise the lap-band to another operation such gastric sleeve. Locating a reputable and experienced surgeon in Tijuana, Mexico is one of the best ways to reduce the risks associated with this bariatric surgery.

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