Study Shows LapBand® Surgery May Have Long-Term Complications

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Vertical gastrectomy is mentioned as a safer option for people considering weight-loss surgery.

In a recent study, a group of physicians from Switzerland led by Dr. M. Suter, MD, PD, FACS, examined the long-term complications related to LapBand® weight-loss surgery. The study demonstrated that LapBand® long-term complications increase over time.

The study followed 317 patients who received LapBand® surgery between June 1997 and June 2003. The physicians gathered data from 81.5% of these patients after seven years. Patients were followed for an average of 74 months. The patients received a LapBand® or a SAGB (Swedish Adjustable Gastric Band), according to the surgeon’s preference. (Studies have demonstrated no significant statistical difference between the complication rates of these two devices.)

Overall, 33.1% of patients had at least one long-term complication related to gastric banding. Long-term complications related to LapBand® included leaking, progressive food intolerance, and band erosion. Many of these complications can be avoided and have been reduced with more careful patient selection and improvement in surgical technique.

Despite the seemingly unfavorable results of Suter’s study, the average amount of weight loss after the surgery remained very acceptable. When asked to comment on the long-term effects of LapBand® in terms of this study, bariatric surgeon Gregg Jossart, of Laparoscopic Associates of San Francisco, said, “Even at 10 years, there are a lot of LapBand® patients with good weight-loss results and no complications. In the end, it’s up to the patient to decide on the course of action they feel is best for their overall health. Our own surgical data demonstrates that the vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a good alternative to the LapBand® in decreasing the likelihood of long-term complications.”

Although other studies have followed the results of gastric banding, most reported data within a two to four year period. The Suter study concluded that, until more is learned about decreasing long-term risk, alternatives like vertical gastrectomy should be considered.

About Laparoscopic Associates of San Francisco

(LapSF) is a team of surgeons with a compassionate approach to patient care and a proven commitment to laparoscopic advancement for bariatric surgical procedures. Specializing in the four main bariatric procedures: Roux en Y Gastric Bypass, Vertical Gastrectomy, LapBand® and Duodenal Switch, LapSF has performed over 1,500 procedures, and is recognized by the American Society of Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) as a Center of Excellence.

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Craig Hordlow
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