Lap Band Side Effects: Problems for Gastric Banding Patients


Home / Lap Band Side Effects: Problems for Gastric Banding Patients

The adjustable gastric band on the stomach can have severe side effects. Image by James P. Gray

Considering weight loss over the holidays? Make sure you get all the details before you choose to lose weight with gastric bands, or lap bands – severe side effects have been noted.

Obesity in America

If Americans continue to gain weight, 75 percent of the adult population will be overweight and 41 percent will be obese in 2015, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Being overweight or obese causes multiple health problems including cardiovascular problems, cancer, stroke, diabetes, difficulty breathing, and many more.

So it is not surprising that Americans will go to great lengths to find a way to lose weight. Some people may qualify for a surgical procedure called gastric band, also known as lap band procedure.

Gastric Banding

This laparoscopic procedure places a band around the upper portion of the stomach to create a smaller stomach. This allows for less food to be consumed and food takes longer to digest; keeping patients feeling full longer. These bands are also adjustable so doctors can adjust how quickly or slowly food digests. According to Medline Plus, if you ae considering the procedure, you must have one or more of the following criteria:

  • You must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 (or greater), which is usually 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women.
  • You may be eligible with a BMI of 35, if weight loss will help improve your other health conditions, such as sleep apnea or type 2 diabetes.
  • You may qualify if you have been obese for more than five years and have tried diet and exercise.

Gastric banding is not a quick or easy fix, and side effects are common among gastric band patients. Side effects include infection, slipping of the band, eroding of the gastric band, poor nutrition, blockage of the bowels, and vomiting. In addition to these established complications, Dr. Adam Czapran, Department of Respiratory Medicine and Coronary Care Unit, Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley, West Midlands, UK and his colleagues released a case report detailing a new side effect of the gastric band.

Gastric band side effects can be severe. Image courtesy of the FDA

Case Report: New Side Effect of the Gastric Band

A woman who had the gastric band surgery in 2008 went to the hospital in May 2010 complaining of night sweats for the previous four months, along with a persistent, productive cough that produced green and yellow sputum.

Other than the gastric lap band, her medical history included a diagnosis of asthma that had not responded to treatment. Doctors suspected that her symptoms were the result of problems with the gastric band.

After additional testing, doctors found that recurrent aspiration of ingested food, and an infection caused holes in her lungs. Once the fluid was removed from her gastric band, her symptoms quickly resolved.


Although respiratory side effects of the gastric band are rare, the case report concluded that if patients present with respiratory symptoms, they should undergo a chest CT scan and/or chest x-ray. If the symptoms are the result of the gastric band, the doctor should then remove the fluid from the band as soon as possible to relieve the obstruction, according to this study.


Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Obesity Rates Continue to Climb in the United States. (2007). Accessed December 22, 2011.

Medline Plus. Laparoscopic gastric banding. (2011). Accessed December 22, 2011.

Czapran, A. Problems with gastric band. Lancet. (2011). Accessed December 22, 2011.

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