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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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