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Lapband Slippage: Causes & Prevention

A Clinical Study

A clinical study was done in Germany to review complications following lap band surgery. Thirty-five hospitals were involved in the study, with 4138 patients that underwent gastric banding over a five-year period. Lap Band long-term complications were described in 8.6% of all patients. The most common complications included: pouch dilation or enlargement (5.0%), lap band slippage (2.6%), and Lapband migration or erosion (1.0%). (Stroh,C Manger, T “Complications after adjustable gastric banding”, Chirurg, 2006, Vol 77,pag 244-250)

Normal Lap Band X-Ray Under Fluoroscopy

Enlarged Lap Band Pouch

What is Lap Band Slippage?

One of the long-term complications of lap band surgery is called “Lapband slippage” and can be defined as “when the Lapband and the stomach pouch are both prolapsed.” This means that the lap band has shifted position and the enlarged stomach pouch has also shifted or twisted so that food does not go through the lapband into the rest of the stomach. This may result in pain, discomfort, decreased appetite and inability to eat or drink, and vomiting. Lapband Slippage does not happen immediately but may take several months to develop.

Large Lap Band Pouch

Lap Band Slippage generally develops in a progressive manner. As food intake is increased, the stomach begins to stretch and grow and the patient may stop losing weight or start to regain weight. At this point, patients may only exhibit an enlarged stomach Lap band pouch. This can be medically treated by deflating the lap band to release pressure and slow the growth of the pouch (successful in 70% of cases, or surgical treatment can be considered). However, if the enlarged lapband pouch continues to grow, the lapband progressively rotates until both the lap band and the enlarged pouch become prolapsed, resulting in Lap band slippage. This is followed by functional stenosis (narrowing) of the stomach.

Lap Band Slippage

Lapband Slippage Symptoms typically include progressively worsening reflux, vomiting and epigastric complaints, which may increase to sudden near-total dysphagia (inability to swallow or eat anything, including saliva).

Risk factors or causes of lap band slippage include surgical technique, model of the lapband used, early consumption of solid foods, early inflation or filling of the band, consumption of carbonated or sparkling beverages, and frequent vomiting.

Treatment for lap band slippage requires surgical intervention. The lapband must be repositioned or removed, based on the operative findings and condition of the stomach pouch. If appropriate, the surgeon and patient may elect to choose another type of bariatric procedure such as a Gastric Sleeve.

How Do I Prevent Lap Band Slippage?

In order to decrease the risk of developing lap band slippage, it is important to follow the recommended diet following surgery and to avoid introducing solid foods too early. In addition, the fills should not be started before 6 weeks post-operatively and these Lap band fills should be very gradual. We also recommend that fills should be done under fluoroscopy, even if you are asymptomatic (no symptoms of lap band slippage), to be able to monitor the position of the lapband, and the size of the stomach pouch and condition of the esophagus. This will allow for early diagnosis of an enlarged stomach pouch or possible lap band slippage.

Susana González, MD


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