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Lap Band Side Effects Led To Additional Surgery in 60% of Patients: Study

About six out of every 10 people who undergo gastric Lap-Band surgery may experience complications that require additional surgery and nearly half may have to have the banding removed, according to a recent study by Belgian researchers. 

The researchers looked at patients who had received the Allergan Inc. Lap-Band over a period of 12 years and reported their findings last week in the Archives of Surgery. They found that nearly a third of patients who undergo the procedure, known as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB), discovered that their bands had eroded the wall of their stomach over time.

The study used data from 82 patients who underwent LAGB surgery between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1997. Researchers found that 61% suffered some kind of complications, usually major. Overall, 28% were found to have suffered Lap-Band erosion, and just under 50% had the band removed within 12 years. Overall, the Lap-Band recipients lost about 43% of the excess weight they carried before undergoing to procedure.

The researchers said that the lap band erosion, complications, and an overall lukewarm satisfaction rating by the patients in the study led them to determine that Lap-Band side effects lead to relatively poor long-term outcomes for LAGB.

Allergan has criticized the findings, saying that a 2010 Lap-Band study in Surgical Endoscopy found only a 12% complication rate among nearly 3,000 patients who had the bands implanted in 2001, which was the year the FDA approved the Lap-Band for use in the U.S. The company said that the study focused on the beginning of LAGB surgery, before doctors became experienced with the procedure.

According to Allergan, more than 500,000 people worldwide have received the Lap-Band and said both the band itself and LAGB surgery have changed since the subjects of the Belgian study received their bands.

The new study comes less than a week after the FDA announced that it was expanding the approved use of the Lap-Band to include people who were less obese.

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120 comments

  1. joan Reply

    Hello fellow failed lapband patients. I had the band surgery in May, 2007. Hurt like Hell for a few days, then it got better. Lost 35 or 40 pounds. Went for a fill when I thought I was eating too much. Vomitted everything after that and went back and got some fill removed. Much better, no weight lost, but I never went back to get the band filled again. For the next 7 years, I gained weight, then would go on a diet and lose the weight. Just like I had done all my life without a band!! I never lost all the weight I needed to lose, but I felt okay. Then, in Feb. 2014, began have pain when I ate right in the center of my stomach where the band was, increased vomiting, horrible acid reflux. My doctor sent me to a Gastroenterologist and he sent me to Houston to a bariatric surgeon where an EGD revealed the band had slipped down lower on my stomach. That same day my bariatric surgeon removed the band. Lots of pain for two or three days, but getting better every day. I must follow a low sugar and low carb plan, much like a diabetic diet or I will GAIN all the weight back. Everyone I know who has had their band removed gained all the weight back and more. Pray for me. All of you will be in my prayers, too.

  2. Deanna Reply

    My name is Deanna. I am a 44 year old who had the Lap Band in 2010. I read Carols comment. I too went to the eye doctor with vision problems. My doctor said I had Dry Macular Degeneration. My band is in the process of being removed. I have been vomiting, sever abdominal pain, back pain, cramping sensation on my port side when I lay on that side and nasua to the point where I can barely eat. I’m awaiting my insurance approval for removal. What’s up with this?

  3. Amanda Reply

    After spending the last hour and a half reading every single comment on this board – all I can say is WOW. I absolutely love how people are willing to sue Allergan because they either didn’t follow their dietary guidelines, their surgeons were quacks, or they had underlying genetic conditions. Tell me again how all of those items are Allergan’s problems? Why sue Allergan if you were not properly taking care of yourself for a surgery YOU ELECTED to have? Having a lap band is a 50/50 split relationship. It will do its part – but you have to do yours as well. Seems to me there was nothing more than an overload of minimal education on this.

    I have had similar instances to many on this board from the tightness in the chest – to mild vomiting – spitting up – food not staying down, etc. These have all been due to the fact that I was not doing my part. I was either eating too fast, not chewing enough, eating foods my body just could not handle anymore, or not taking my vitamins like I should have.

    Your band tightness changes every single day and factors like stress, the weather, and even caffeine intake can affect the tightness in the band. I agree that erosion can become a factor – but the majority of the stories on this board are screaming that uneducated people thought they were going to get a quick weight loss fix and didn’t do their part for their weight loss journey. Its a weight loss TOOL not a end all fix.

  4. Kayla Reply

    In 2009 I had my lapband surgery. Throughout the years I have had mild pain in my port area and in my shoulder where my “gas” pains from initial surgery first started. I will say I ate correctly, exercised everyday, and felt great when I was not having a pain. I would just deal with it when it happened. I lost 113 pounds and started looking sick and the pain was getting worse. I went a little over 3 years without having it filled because I was still losing weight and probably from working at it and putting in my 50%. I will have to say the pain never stopped but only got worse. With the pain getting worse so did the vomiting which started abruptly and kept going everyday for a year. Since I am stubborn and just sucked it up and dealt with the pain because when I wasn’t hurting I felt great I never went to the doctor until March 2013 and he told me I was highly malnutrition and needed it to be loosened so I did what I was told and started eating more and gaining some of my weight back. I then got pregnant and only gained 20 pounds with my baby and lost it all when I had her. In the mean time of all this going on the pain continually gets worse and more often. It is limiting my breathing at times and my port still sticks out when it happens, it is also moving towards my back area. I will be getting this checked out as soon as possible. I just wrote this all to say even though you take care of yourself and put in your 50% to help the band out there are still complications so just because something goes wrong does not mean you are not doing something right. I am not ready to sue just yet but if I have to pay to have it removed I will.

  5. Adele Reply

    I loved my lap band…until it developed a leak back in 2005. Lost 70lbs with careful diet and exercise. I live in New Zealand and insurance wont pay for a replacement. Gutted

  6. ilene Reply

    I almost died from my lap band and yet cannot find a lawyer willing to take on case. My lap band was inserted June 2010. In October started feeling pain left flank area. Was in emergency room and even had a hospital stay and all they said was that I had pneumonia. Finally a gastroenterologist (my saviour) decided to perform an endoscopy only to find the band had eroded into my stomach. I was then scheduled for removal. I spent one month in hospital. I had developed peritonitis, collapsed lung, a raging infection, etc. And since then still living life of he’ll. Have uncontrollable diarrhea . Have had to have a sacral nerve stimulater implanted in me but exact cause of diarrhea remains unknown but it all started at same time. Now I find out there are some stitches still remaining in my body which will probably require further surgery. Some days I m also taking about 16 Imodium tablets together with several other meds that the doctors have given me to try to control the diarrhea. Plus living in diapers and having to be embarrassed all the time. Why can’t anyone help me try to find some justice??

  7. Wendy Reply

    I had the lapband in 2006 and by 2009 it slipped and I was sick often because I could not afford to get it out, I also had to get a blood transfusion and they never figured where the blood loss was from. My blood has never been right since. I live in sunny Florida and I have a vitamin D deficiency. I had the band removed in 2012 in an emergency situation I complained of severe pain, I knew that was the only way I could get it removed. They said my stomach was 3 times its size from being swollen. No wonder I was always sick. I feel better then ever today but my blood count is never normal. I am always afraid I need a transfusion because the only sign that I needed It was tiredness which I always am. My stomach never feels right I’m sure there is some kind of damage but I haven’t had insurance to find out. I have kept a lot of my weight off but not all of it. I just wonder how many people have needed blood transfusions that have had the lapband !!

  8. Verlynne Reply

    I had the lap band 9/07. I did ok and lost weight until the beginning of 2012. I couldn’t get anything to go through. I went in and had it completely emptied, but I still could not eat. I had an upper GI and my surgeon assured me that it looked good and everything was fine. Well, I wasn’t going for that, so I got in with a GI and he did an endoscopy that showed a severe erosion. I went in for surgery the following week. It was suppose to be a simple fix. Remove it and stitch up the hole. I went home the next day. 2 days later I had high fevers and a disgusting smelly drainage from the JP drain. I went in for a CT and it showed that it had opened and I had peritonitis. I went back in for surgery the next day. It took 5 hours for the surgery. They had to give me blood transfusions and medication to bring my blood pressure up, remove a piece of my liver due to infection and then the nurse jokingly told my husband “she kept trying to stop breathing on us” and laughed about it. I was in the hospital for a week having CT scans almost everyday, because it continued to leak. They placed a PICC line and I was on TPN and could have nothing to eat or drink for 4 weeks while it “scarred over” and quit leaking. Not only was I on nutrition through the PICC line, but I was on heavy antibiotics 3 times a day. I had several surgical incisions and one of the drains ate through my skin and left a big gapping hole that had to be packed twice a day.
    That was just the surgery part. I have suffered almost daily with the aftermath of this. My stomach (or what we call my scar) hurts most of the time. I had a bowel obstruction 6 weeks after the surgery and ended up having iron transfusions to bring my levels back up to normal. Now this is just the physical pain I deal with and just the tip of the iceberg. The emotional and psychological pain is more detrimental and I suffer from severe depression and anxiety, due to the “dumping syndrome” that was suppose to be temporary. My surgeon takes no responsibility and says it is my fault, that I must have been taking Ibuprofen while I had the band. Well I am an RN and I’m not an idiot. I never took Ibuprofen because I knew what could happen. I am so angry that they said there was a 2% chance of erosion and now I am hearing that it is more like 50% chance. Also, I’m sure it didn’t help that his office staff more than once over-filled my band and had it completely closed off.
    To end my rant, let me just say THE LAP BAND SUCKS! When are we going to get justice for the pain and suffering we have endured trying to better ourselves! I am ruined!

  9. Pam Reply

    I had my band Realize placed in2007. The first couple of years were fine, but after that it all went down hill. I started developing a sever pain in my left should, chest pain, severe acid reflux, indigestion, and shortness of breath just as Kayla did. I got to the point that I couldn’t even get fluid down without it coming back up. I was worried the band had slipped so I had to pay $250 to visit to have the Dr. check it only to tell me it was too full so he removed a little bit. 3 weeks later I am back paying another $250 and he says oh I must not have removed enough we will take a little more. Well I finally had to call him crying because I was getting so sick that my throat was raw and I could not keep paying him $250 so he said, ok, well pay $100. When I went in he only wanted a to remove a little and I said, NO, empty it! I am still in pain. My shoulder is hurting so bad as I type this that I can barely stand it! But that is not the worse part. 9months ago I started having seizures! Now there is a link to the lap band damaging the Vargus nerve resulting in seizures. When I heard about this from my Dr. I searched and there are literally 1000’s of posts similar to mine of band patients developing seizures. I am now on Dilantin for the seizures and can not drive until I am one year seizure free. My last seizure was only one month ago and it was so severe that I was transported by ambulance which now has me left with yet MORE medical bills that I can not pay because like so many of us we can not afford medical coverage and if we can it will not cover these things! With ever seizure a person has, the damage a small piece of the brain. Had any of this been discussed or should I say disclosed, I would NEVER have done this!!! My life is forever changed now and no one wants to take accountability for these things. I am a single mother and no license means no job! I live in a small town with no public transportation and my commute to work daily is 60 miles each way! This band has destroyed my life under the pretense of bettering it!

  10. Sharon Reply

    Well I have had my lap band for 4 yrs I do have a lot of trouble with it I vomit all the time i live with different types of pains all the time. I have losts 140lbs I weigh about 102lbs but I truly believe it not all the bands fault one we need to learn how to eat correctly. I dont regret having the band done I just wish I could find a way to fell better and get healthy again. I hated being fat. Just pray for me and lets hope for the best I truly believe I can get better

  11. MB Reply

    Band in 2007, revision due to Dr putting holes in the tube while filling and I filling it. He would play guess where the port is and hit me with a huge needle until he finally hit it. Some visits it took up to ten try’s. Very painful. So after the revision, I never went back-I was afraid he would put holes in the line again so I just continued with the fill from the revision in ’09 till last month’14 when I could no longer swallow. I have no idea what changed but I was in so much pain- more than ever before. I could no longer ignore the pain because now I could not even swallow my saliva. After many different dr visits, tests and jumping through hoops with the insurance company I will finally be getting this piece of crap out of my body. I would strongly suggest to anyone considering the lap band to reconsider.

  12. Cynthiao Reply

    I find it interesting that some of you feel that the tool called the band is only as effective as the person using it. Could you please enlighten me on how I misused my now removed band? It did not slip, I lost weight however, it had to be removed from my liver. Please tell me what I did that made the band adhere to my liver? If you are not aware of all the complications that can happen to people who use the tool the way they are supposed to, then please do not comment.

  13. frank Reply

    I had my band removed in 2013..erosion very bad nearly died 3 days after by bad sepsis infection..however does anyone have the issue of no matter even if you drink.glass of water you look like you are pregnant?? Stomach blows up ?? Thanks.

  14. Genevieve Reply

    I had the lap band surgery 4 1/2 years ago. In August 2014, I started experiencing pain, nausea and vomiting x7 days. I was unable to keep anything down, including water, became severely dehydrated. I finally went to ER, where it was discovered that my band had slipped and was completely obstructing my stomach. The band was deflated, and I was then able to eat and drink. My insurance refused to pay for the removal. So since then, I have been dealing with frequent pain, nausea and vomiting that was effecting my daily life. It recently became so severe that I had to undergo emergency surgery to remove the band. My new surgeon informed me that the rate of failure for the lap band is 60%. I was never informed of these statistics. I would never have elected to have a procedure with such a high failure rate. Please help me!

  15. Hollie Reply

    I had lap band march 2013. I still eat too fast..throw up
    I eat too much…throw up
    I can eat any type of junk food in abundance..no problems
    I try protein first but it gets stuck and..throw up
    I really need help…

    I’ve lost about 30lbs total still have 50 to go but last night while laying in bed I had a sharp pop feeling from my port ares the a slight sting downward. no pain but I still feel an area of soreness by my port. I have apt for upper GI tomorrow morning.

    Anyone experience this/ any guesses?

  16. Alexis Reply

    I had lap band inserted 2012 and almost 2 yrs later had pain in left flank and was weak. Went to er doctor stated that lap band eroded into stomach. I had emergency surgery for lap band removal 2014. I never had any side effects of band (i thought) prior to this.

    I had a serious infection and became septic and almost died. A fistula developed where they put a J tube in to let my stomach heal. The incesion wAs infected and i had to have a wound vac for 5 months and I ended up on TPN for 4 months. I was hospitalized 7 times and had 5 surgeries and spent months in the hospital. Due to the fistula, food kept coming out of my side. I was out of work for 8 months. I’m still not able to lift much weight. I also had to have a skin graft to original incesion. I have horrible scarring and very lucky to be alive. So for those who want to comment and how we just need to do our part??? I feel I was not given proper information about the risks. The doctor indicated that there was a 1% risk of erosion and if there are problems “you just take it out.” What a joke. I contemplated taking my life because I had such poor quality of life, was in horrible pain with wound care and dragging around a wound vac machine then a TPN bag with a pic line. I finally healed but I feel that I now have a hernia where the incesion is and have delayed going back in because I can’t face another surgery. Doctors told me that would likely happen due to all the significant infection in the tissue at the incesion site.
    So do NOT get a Lap Band. Thank God I had an excellent team of doctors they saved my life.

  17. pmp Reply

    Do not get a lap band….period.

    I am trying to get mine out now. I am so scared of what it has done to me.

    I have gas that will not leave my body all the time, and pain in my abdominal cavity so bad that it feels as if it is attached to my organs.

    Been trying to get it out for over a year, but had to fight insurance.

    I am getting it out in 2 days finally, and hoping they only find something minor.

    Ps. I lost over 100 pounds kept it off and did my part… for you jerks/

  18. Stacy Reply

    How is there not a class action lawsuit against Allergan yet?? Patients were lied to…told the Band was a safe, effective alternative to major gastric surgery. It’s adjustable! It’s reversible! Very low complications, guaranteed for 50 years was what my surgeon told me.

    Six years later, my band is out after an emergency procedure due to prolapse. I spent 5 years with major acid reflux regardless of fill amount – to the point acid would leak out of my nose at night. Spent the last several months before removal vomiting and nauseated all the time. I had referred pain in back and shoulders, and often had back spasms that would lay me out.

    My new doctor (not the one who placed the band – he bailed and left town 3 months after my surgery despite promises of one year of free adjustments) says he has taken out twice as many bands as he ever put in.

    Allergan is still manufacturing these bands and people are still getting them, though at much lower rates. To date. I have paid over 20K out of pocket for the insertion, management and removal of my band… not to mentions years of suffering with the pain of the device. This has to stop. I consider myself an informed consumer, especially when it comes to my own medical issues. I would have NEVER elected to have a band had I known the true statistics on complications and failure rates.

  19. Gloria Reply

    Had lap band in 2007. Did a belly flop 5 months ago and suffered a rectal sheath hematoma. Been hurting off and on in port area. Had an
    .EGD & CT & they say that it
    Show all in place but being it’s completely empty I wonder why I’m still having discomfort after a meal and glass of water. Bariatric surgeon recommending a revision but I take Coumadin for Atrial Fibrillation so I’m very hesitant. I would tell everyone out there thinking iof a lap band to STAY AWAY FROM IT!!!! Do a sleeve!

  20. Kristen Reply

    I have been having severe pain in my stomach which seems to radiate to my ears. The ear pain becomes so bad I can hardly stand it. I try and eat healthy, but vegetables and proteins cause my pain to get worse. I become hungry and turn to whatever will go down and not cause pain, not worrying about the calorie content. I have lost 70lbs, since surgery in 2010, but am at least 70lbs from my goal weight. At this point I feel like I can’t live a normal life. When I try and eat decent food, I end up in pain or throwing up. Eat crap and feel so much better, but I know it will only cause weight gain. I am so frustrated! Has anyone else had the stomach pain with major ear pain?

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