Unfortunately lap band removal is common and as many as half of all patients eventually have their bands removed, whether for serious complications or for problems losing weight, the Cleveland Clinic reports. The surgical procedure itself is very straightforward and there are many options available for converting the band into another weight loss surgery.
Generally if the initial surgery was performed laparoscopically then the removal procedure will be performed the same way. In these instances, the removal can be quick and easy depending on the patient’s complications. Generally surgery will take less than one hour (10 minutes to remove the band itself). The surgeon will remove all sutures and adhesions used during the initial surgery to help the stomach go back to its original state. The capsule the body has formed around the band will also be cut away. The band itself will be cut and pulled out from around the stomach and removed with the tube. The port will be removed through the incision, in the same place it was inserted originally.
Weight gain is common after surgery as the stomach returns back to a normal state. The loss of the stomach restriction leads to increased feelings of hunger. This makes revisional surgery into another weight loss surgery popular for many patients.
A surgeon can help you decide if revisional surgery is for you. Certain factors come into play when making this decision including when the operation was performed, where the surgery was performed, the weight loss history of the patient, any complications experienced after the first surgery and the patient’s overall weight loss goals.
Because revisional operations are more technically challenging, they run a higher risk of complications post-surgery. Some lap band removal surgeries can lead to complications. For instance, intense inflammatory reactions around the stomach can occur, which can lead to major scarring. This can lead to difficulty removing the band and a much more difficult recovery. Bleeding is also a major risk when this occurs (and with any surgery) and some patients may require a blood transfusion. A hole or perforation in the stomach can also occur. If this occurs, a drain tube will be placed adjacent to the perforation and will be kept in for an undisclosed period of time until the surgeon deems it safe to suture the area.
Some more common surgery complications include bleeding, infection, anesthesia complications, deep vein thrombosis, nausea and vomiting. If a patient has worsening pain, persistent nausea or vomiting, a fever over 101 or redness around the incisions, consult the surgeon or a medical professional immediately.
Patients generally wake up in a half hour after surgery without pain. Narcotics from surgery should keep the patient comfortable and in and out of sleep. There may be some pain at the incision sites during the first night. The throat itself may be painful, sore or dry. These are all common signs after general anesthesia. A few hours after surgery, you will be asked to walk a bit. This will help you to get rid of the CO2 in the abdomen from surgery, which can lead to painful gas. You also must urinate before leaving the hospital. Your IV will be removed and you will go home. Most patients do not feel hungry at all the day of surgery, however if a patient is they will be allowed small sips of clear liquids only.
Generally if a patient’s insurance paid for the lap band surgery, they will also pay for the removal surgery or any revisional surgery procedure. If you do not have insurance, many surgeons have become offering an affordable rate for removal because of how often they occur and how quick the procedure is.
Related: Discover the Costs of Various Weight Loss Procedures.