Risks of Gastric Banding

As with any surgical procedure, the gastric banding operation has a risk profile which is important to understand before proceeding. The following is a comprehensive list of issues which can occur. This list is extensive and is not intended to worry you, but simply inform you about the range of possible complications, regardless of how rare the issue may be.

Possible short term complications

Acute complications are very rare after gastric banding, but can include:

  • Infection of tissues around the port site or the band. This can require treatment with antibiotics and in exceptional circumstances removal of the band.
  • Damage to organs – Any keyhole procedure can be complicated by unintentional injury to the organs near the area of operation. This may require a repeat operation, removal of the band and repair of the damaged organs.
  • Deep Venous Thrombosis (clots in the veins) and pulmonary embolus (clots in the lungs).
  • Pneumonia / chest infection.

Your surgical team will take all possible measures to reduce these risks, but if these complications occur, treatment may be necessary.

Possible long term complications

There are some possible long term surgical problems related to the device itself:

  • The band can slip (move too high or too low on the stomach).
  • The band can erode (appear within the stomach cavity) and this can require the band to be removed. This complication occurs in up to 1% of cases.
  • Gastric pouch dilatation, or oesophageal dilatation, above the band can occur as a result of over eating on a regular basis. This increases the volume of food that can be taken at one time which can lead to weight regain. If this occurs, a revision procedure might be required to modify or improve the band position. When this is recurrent or persistent, the band may need to be removed.
  • Nutritional deficiencies. These are very rare after gastric banding. If they are found, they can usually be easily managed with vitamin and mineral supplementation and with regular review by your dietitian.

Occasionally these issues require urgent medical and surgical intervention.

The band is simply a mechanical device, and like all devices can require maintenance long term. Some people may require some sort of revision surgery in the future to improve the position of the band.