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How to Go about Lap Band Removal?



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Hello All,

I am a second time poster on this board. The first time being 3.5 years ago. I guess one stays away as long as things are going well. 40 years old male. I had the lap band surgery almost 9 years ago now. I am posting now because I am wondering whether I should have my lap band removed and if so, how to go about it.

Weight loss wise, the band has not failed me. I have lost about 90 pounds with it and have maintained that (despite some yo-yoing in the middle). In fact I am now at my lowest weight ever now because of having to adjust my eating (see point #1). But I am considering removing the band for a number of reasons.

1) Acid reflux. Had it bad for a couple of years (and gained weight on those years) until I changed my eating habits (lower volume, not eating close to bedtime) about a year ago and the problem is now gone (and gone with them the extra pounds).

2) Gas/ bloating/ indigestion. Gas has been a problem from day 1. When everyone usually complained about trapped gas for a few days or a week or two at most after surgery, I remember having trapped gas for a month and half after surgery! And since my surgery, most gas has tended to come up (through my mouth). But I have noticed recently that gas (which I assume comes from indigestion) is becoming a real problem and that I have been spending sometimes hours after a meal suffering from excruciating abdominal pain because of trapped gas that needs to be released.

3) lack of follow-up support/ care. I live in Canada and because I was considered a low-BMI at the time, I had to go the private route for it. A year following surgery, I moved provinces and was thus thousands of kms away from the clinic where I had my surgery. 5 years later, and my surgeon no longer practiced at that private clinic and only now works in the public system exclusively. There are no private bariatric surgeons in the province I live in, and all attempts to follow-up wit a local surgeon through the public system have failed miserably. For fills, I used to either go to my original surgeon or to a fill doctor I know (flying thousands of kms away for both). In the 9 years, I remember I had my band checked once with my original surgeon about 5 years ago, and once at my local hospital here (where they do the public weight loss surgeries) only through x-ray when I thought something was wrong with the band.

4) the increasing stories on the forum and elsewhere about people opting to remove their bands. Very sad and depressing but understandable. I feel I am living with a ticking time bomb that will go off at some point in time (and maybe it already has and I don't know!). So it's a question of when rather than if.

I am still debating when and how to go about this. Do I do it ASAP or do I wait a bit more until things are worse? Do I pay for it privately and fly again thousands of kms away to have it removed? or do I try to remove it locally? Is it even possible to do it locally without having to wait until I am dying for the public hospital here to remove it for me? I should mention that my family doctor retired a year ago and so I am now with a new doctor who I haven't had a chance to discuss all of this with at length yet.

One thing I know for sure is that I am not revising to any other weight loss surgery privately because I will not repeat not having proper follow-up care locally like I did with the lap-band. This is very hard to live with and I guess I am now more risk averse now that I am older (and hopefully wiser with that lap band experience).

Many thanks,

Seldom

Edited by seldom78

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I would go and address your concerns with a Dr.

They may decide to do some tests - barium swallow, endoscope etc. If the results of all those are fine they may feel that if its not causing problems to leave it as is. Obviously if they do fins anything untoward then the advice may be to remove it

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#1-it sounds like you need to see a doctor who understands and/or specializes in bariatric procedures. Going to or finding a new family doctor is all well and good, but they don't specialize in bariatrics and wouldn't necessarily understand the special needs or potential complications. If your access to a bariatric doctor is as limited as you say, another option might be a gastroenterologist.

In terms of how to have it removed, I'd say refer again to #1. See a bariatric doctor. He/She will advise on that and their office knows how to manage reimbursement.

In my own experience, I suffered with reflux for nearly 5 years with the band. I left my original band surgeon because his bedside manner was so poor that I lost faith in him and his practice. I found a new band doc, had to drive nearly 3 hours to get there, but it was so worth it. He worked with me, offered me options and when it came time, he was honest by telling me there was nothing more he could do and maybe I just needed the band out. Then again, I live in the States and my access sounds a lot different than yours. Best of Luck!

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Seldom,

I am in a similar situation.

However I thought all was well with my band, but after 12 years I have developed esophageal dysmotility. So in my opinion I would say get the esophagram ASAP. My problem could have gotten worse without me knowing. At this point it appears it may be reversible with band removal (although I cannot find much research/results). So your “ticking time bomb” hyposthesis applies to me.

But good luck!

Stella

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Thank you very much for all those who responded. It really made me feel better getting this support, even if only online.

I have some good news. In a moment of desperation, I gave the bariatric group of the public health system in my city a call, not expecting much. I left the coordinator there a voice message explaining my situation. She got back to me a day later asking me to go to my GP and ask him for a referral to the group so that they could take me on as a patient! I can then decide then with the bariatric surgeon(s) that will see me what to do with the band. Monitoring it and keeping it in. Taking it out. Revising to another surgery, etc...

I was so excited I couldn't believe my ears!!! I expected them to turn me away like they had done when I first moved here 7 years ago. Back then, they asked me to go back to my original surgeon as they only looked after their own patients! I suspect that with the high failure rate of the band, they realized it would just be unethical to turn patients who had done it elsewhere away when some of the band complications can be deadly.

In all cases, I have an appointment with my GP in 10 days to ask him for a referral to the group. I really can't wait and for the first time in years feel like I will finally get the care and support I need. Given how things work here in the public health system, it may take a few months though before I am seen by the bariatric group, but better later than never I guess!

On the negative side, I seem to have developed a chronic bad breath problem that I never knew about. My mom who has been staying with me for the last two weeks noticed it. No matter how much I brush my teeth, eat or not eat, it seems to be there. I suspect I have had this for some time without knowing it as I live on my own. I am pretty sure it's related to the band.

Edited by seldom78

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Posted (edited)
On 1/26/2019 at 1:33 AM, seldom78 said:

Thank you very much for all those who responded. It really made me feel better getting this support, even if only online.

I have some good news. In a moment of desperation, I gave the bariatric group of the public health system in my city a call, not expecting much. I left the coordinator there a voice message explaining my situation. She got back to me a day later asking me to go to my GP and ask him for a referral to the group so that they could take me on as a patient! I can then decide then with the bariatric surgeon(s) that will see me what to do with the band. Monitoring it and keeping it in. Taking it out. Revising to another surgery, etc...

I was so excited I couldn't believe my ears!!! I expected them to turn me away like they had done when I first moved here 7 years ago. Back then, they asked me to go back to my original surgeon as they only looked after their own patients! I suspect that with the high failure rate of the band, they realized it would just be unethical to turn patients who had done it elsewhere away when some of the band complications can be deadly.

In all cases, I have an appointment with my GP in 10 days to ask him for a referral to the group. I really can't wait and for the first time in years feel like I will finally get the care and support I need. Given how things work here in the public health system, it may take a few months though before I am seen by the bariatric group, but better later than never I guess!

On the negative side, I seem to have developed a chronic bad breath problem that I never knew about. My mom who has been staying with me for the last two weeks noticed it. No matter how much I brush my teeth, eat or not eat, it seems to be there. I suspect I have had this for some time without knowing it as I live on my own. I am pretty sure it's related to the band.

Hi there,

I have been considering lap band removal the past year because I have been dealing with quite a bit of abdominal pain after having the band for almost 10 years.

I self funded the original surgery, so I really dont know whether OHIP will cover the removal of the band. Dont really know where to start!

Any updates on your end whether you are able to successfully remove the band (and covered by ohip)? Please kindly share your experience if you can, Thanks!

Edited by miscl

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If you can't find one in private practice, consider your nearest " Teaching"/ University Hospital. Not only will they provably do it they may have clinics you can go through that may be lower- price-point.

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