Lap Band Surgery – What you need to know

Lap Band Surgery

Do you have a Lap Band? When was the last time you spoke to your Bariatric GP?
We asked one of our Bariatric GP’s why it is so important to stay in touch.

What are the main advantages of keeping in regular contact with your Bariatric GP post Lap Band?

Seeing our Bariatric GP’s regularly can help make sure that you are still managing a well-balanced diet and reaching your weight loss goals.  We want you to remain healthy whilst doing this, particularly by ensuring you have the right amount of fluid in your band. 

We will work with you to limit any problems while adjusting to your new lifestyle. We will guide you on what you are able to eat, how you are managing with your lap band, as well as monitoring your weight loss. 

How often should I get an adjustment and what should it feel like when you hit the ‘Sweet Spot’?

In the early stages, when you are trying to find the right amount of fluid in the band that feels just right for you, we would see you about every 4 weeks.

When the ‘sweet spot’ is attained, you will feel satisfied with a smaller meal, and generally you won’t feel as hungry in between meals. This is different for everybody, and we want to make sure you are managing a healthy, balanced, varied daily food intake and in turn remaining healthy.

When you feel comfortable with the band and what you can eat, we recommend seeing you every 4-6 months to monitor your weight loss and check your nutrition levels, therefore blood tests are recommended and tested every 6 months.

What should you avoid after getting a Lap Band?

Avoid eating fast, eating large bites of your meal, eating large portions, or eating foods that often cause obstruction such as bread, bananas, steak and fizzy drinks. 

The best eating practices after a lap band are to have small portions at regular intervals, to take bites about the size of a fingernails (not including nail extensions!), to chew it well before swallowing, and to wait one minute between bites.  A good estimate of portion size is about 20 bites, so each meal should take 20 minutes to finish. Eating this way reduces the chances of having a blockage, and having regular meals reduces hunger, which in turn can prevent eating larger portions or eating too fast. And eating mindfully greatly assists with stopping when you are satisfied as opposed to stopping when you are full. 

Our dieticians can advise you in more detail or help you with any specific concerns. 

Will I get a blockage if I have a band?

Blockage is always a possibility with a gastric band.  Fortunately, most blockages are temporary and can be managed at home.  The best way to avoid a blockage is to eat carefully and mindfully, as mentioned above. 

What does a blockage feel like?

If your band is obstructed, you will feel a sense of discomfort and over-fullness, as if food you have eaten cannot pass through your stomach (which is exactly what is happening!).  It can be a mild discomfort that passes in a few minutes, but in more severe cases you may experience heartburn, reflux, an acid taste at the back of your mouth, and nausea or vomiting if your stomach cannot tolerate pressure from the food.  In extreme cases, people can have trouble swallowing their own saliva and may even find themselves spitting it up as a frothy fluid.  In these cases, there is a danger of dehydration, and you should seek medical attention that day.

What do I do if I get a blockage?

The first thing to try is simply giving some time for the food to pass by itself.  Some people find a small drink of fluid and help move the obstruction on. A small mouthful of carbonated cola can help because oxalic acid and bubbles can break up a plug of food (please note – in general, fizzy drinks should be avoided!).  If you do get over a blockage by yourself, the stomach might be a little swollen afterwards which effectively narrows the band.  We recommend that you have fluids only for a day or two, then soft foods for another day or two before returning to your normal diet so that your stomach has time to return to normal.  If you have a blockage that is more severe, you might need to have the band loosened in our clinic. 

What is the difference between a blockage and slipped lap band?

A simple blockage occurs when a small parcel of food plugs up the stomach at the band.  It is usually manageable at home or with a reduction in your band volume.  A slipped band is when the stomach develops a pouch above the band. Any food that settles into the pouch will be difficult to move on, which makes it feel very similar to a simple blockage of at least moderate severity.  Sometimes taking the fluid out of the band will allow the pouch to return to normal. If that does not help, we would usually check the band position with a barium swallow test and then decide on the next step.  Sometimes a slipped band needs to be surgically removed and replaced.  Fortunately slipped bands are not common, less than 5% of people with gastric bands will experience a slippage.  If you experience any blockage, even a mild one, and you are not sure what to do next, please call our clinic for advice. 


Are you ready to find out more?

Call us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation with our Bariatric Nurse Educator or one of our Bariatric coordinators.