URHCS bariatric surgeon points out health complications with LAP-BAND (Healthy You)

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX.KJTL) — If you had LAP-BAND surgery five, 10 or 15 years ago and you’ve noticed respiratory problems like recurring pneumonia or chronic bronchitis, it may be time to go get checked by a bariatric doctor.

In 2001, the FDA approved the LAP-BAND as a form of weight loss. Its popularity expanded through the early 2000’s up until mid- 2015 or so.

The last time United Regional Bariatric Surgeon Chris Finnell, M.D. put one in was 2014.

“The LAP-BAND really kind of lost popularity because there’s a high failure rate, even in the early period after the surgery,” Finnell said. “About half the people who get it really kind of don’t lose much weight.”

Finnell has taken note of complications over the years, whether you had it put in recently or 19 years ago.

In some cases, the device prevents food from entering the stomach.

“The person lays down and goes to sleep and they have what’s called aspiration where the contents of their esophagus or their stomach spill into the lungs and it might just do it a little bit and it can cause bronchitis and recurrent pneumonia,” Finnell said. “I see this very frequently where people have had a LAP-BAND and it kind of gets overlooked.”

Another problem Finnell has noticed is that patients with the device begin to gain weight again.

“That’s from people get used to having the band in place and the restriction feeling that they initially felt has worn off and they’re able to eat more, but really it’s not that the food is going immediately into the stomach, it’s that it’s stacking up in the esophagus,” Finnell said. “You can permanently damage your lungs.”

It’s not too late to solve this as Finnell said one way is to remove fluid, or you can have the band removed.

“Usually the esophagus will go back to normal, I have seen this where they’re really big and you take it out and the body heals itself, and it kind of returns to normal,” Finnell said. “They can eat more nutritious foods because they have been eating these carb-heavy kind of junk foods for years cause that’s the only thing that goes through, you take the band out and they can have lean meat and fresh vegetables and they actually will lose weight.”

Finnell said removing the fluid or the device provides instant relief, but if you don’t see taking it out as an option, there are alternatives.

“You can always have the LAP-BAND converted to a sleeve or have it converted to a gastric bypass,” Finnell said.

At the end of the day if your band is working just fine, just be wary of if you begin to experience these symptoms.

“I don’t want to scare everybody and make everybody who has had a LAP-BAND is going to have these symptoms,” Finnell said. “If it’s in there and it’s working for ya there’s no reason to do anything about it.”

If you are experiencing these problems and have a LAP-BAND, Finnell encourages you to get it checked.

Click here for how to get in touch with the bariatric team at United Regional.

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