Acid Reflux and Heartburn after Lap Band Removal

Acid Reflux and Heartburn after Lap Band Removal

Ginger from West Houston sent us this question: “I had a lap band removal after 5 years of it. I have GERD and I still have the ability to regurgitate my food. I never felt like they removed the band”

Dear Ginger,

Lap Band procedure for weight loss weakens the anti-reflux barrier. The longer Lap band has been in place and the more restricted you have been the higher the likelihood of persistent acid reflux related symptoms after Lap Band removal. In most cases, Lap band removal, by itself, does not result in heartburn and food regurgitation resolution. This is unfortunately a common occurrence because most Lap Band patients have been over-restricted in hopeless attempts at promoting weight loss. Forcing a patient to eat less does not reverse the metabolic abnormalities of obesity and does not result in durable weight loss.

Consequently, the end result of Lap Band over-restriction is not weight loss. Rather, Lap Band over-restriction leads to gastric pouch dilation, hiatal hernia formation and esophageal dysmotility. Both hiatal hernia formation and weak esophageal contractions contribute to acid reflux and difficulty swallowing. Following band removal, esophageal motility may recover, but hiatal hernias do not resolve without surgical repair.

Most bariatric and general surgeons are not considered acid reflux specialists. If you continue to have heartburn, food regurgitation and difficulty swallowing food after Lap Band removal, you need to consult with an experienced Houston acid reflux specialist to evaluate your problem and offer the most suitable treatment for your condition. An upper endoscopy and esophageal manometry are offered at Houston Heartburn and Reflux Center for patients with persistent acid reflux after Lap Band removal. If hiatal hernia is found, then hiatal hernia repair is recommended with Toupet or Nissen fundoplication depending on the integrity of esophageal contractions. Hiatal hernia repair and weight loss procedure like sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass are also good options especially in the setting of morbid obesity. A solid hiatal hernia repair by an acid reflux specialist is associated with high success rate and significant improvement in your quality of life.