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Balancing the Risks of Surgery Against the Risks of Obesity

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Gastric Band Risks

The major risks associated with gastric banding are significantly less than with other forms of bariatric surgery. Since the banding procedure does not involve opening the gastric cavity and there is no cutting, stapling or bypassing, most of the side effects and potential for infection usually associated with weight-loss surgery are avoided.

Possible Gastric Band Complications

The most significant problem associated with gastric banding has been alteration in the size of the stomach pouch which is isolated above the band. This pouch may enlarge in some cases, either due to slippage of the band, or stretching of the wall of the pouch. In addition there is the potential for band erosion.

Other possible risks and complications include:

  • Band leakage
  • Reflux or vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of weight loss
  • Blockage of stomach outlet
  • Gas or bloating
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Ulceration
  • Weight regain
  • Gastritis
  • In extremely rare cases, death

Remember, one of the major advantages of the gastric band is that it can be removed or replaced if any of these complications become serious or life-threatening.

You should discuss all potential risks and complications with your surgeon prior to surgery.

Risks of Obesity

Obesity is emerging as a health epidemic around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is rapidly spreading across all regions and demographic groups. The prevalence of obesity has increased more than 60 percent in the past decade. One quarter of the U.S. population is obese and another 97 million Americans are overweight or at risk of becoming obese.

Morbid Obesity

A person who generally weighs at least double or 100 pounds more than his or her ideal weight or has a BMI of 40 or more is diagnosed as morbidly obese. The National Institutes of Health report that morbid obesity may considerably reduce life expectancy and is associated with an increased risk of developing conditions or diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Joint problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cancer
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Respiratory problems