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Gastric Band - Medical Malpractice Lawyer

LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125

Bariatric surgery for weight loss has been carried out in Canada for decades however due to the increasing rate of obesity; demand for weight loss surgery including gastric bypass, lap band and gastric band procedures have risen exponentially. This increase in surgical procedures has been accompanied by a similar increase in negligent procedures resulting in an ever increasing number of medical malpractice lawyers compensation claims. Insurers indicate that fatalities are rare however there is cause for concern about after-care and wound infection rates with a requirement for many repeat surgical procedures caused by slippage in situ of a lap band or gastric band. Some of these repeat procedures are without doubt as a result of medical malpractice relating to the initial surgery. There are over 5,000 instances of surgical weight loss procedures carried out in Canada every year and rates of lawyers medical malpractice claims for problems associated with gastric bypass surgery and lap band or gastric band surgery is not expected to decline in the near future due the increasing demand and the relative lack of skill and expertise of doctors who are new to this particular area of surgery. If you are concerned about your surgery our gastric band medical malpractice lawyers offer a consultation at no cost and with no obligation. If you would like free advice from a medical malpractice lawyer on negligent gastric band surgery simply complete the contact form or email our medical malpractice lawyers offices.

Bariatric Surgery

Surgeries designed to help a woman or man lose weight are on the increase. These are called bariatric surgeries. The increase in worldwide obesity has been the impetus behind having more of these surgeries. In the Canada alone, over 50% percent of the population is overweight and, of these, over 20 percent or more are considered obese. Worldwide, there are 1.5 billion overweight individuals. Obesity is expected to overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in Canada. There are about 40,000 deaths due to obesity in Canada each year. In those who are morbidly obese, weight loss can often only be achieved through the use of bariatric surgery. Weight loss surgeries happen in Canada around 20,000 times per year.

There are several kinds of weight loss surgeries you can have. The type of surgery you have depends on the surgeon, your personal preference and how obese you are. In many cases, it comes down to the personal preference of the surgeon or you.

Roux-en-Y Procedure

The Roux-en-Y procedure is the most commonly done procedure. In that procedure, a portion of the stomach is stapled off, making a small pouch which becomes the new stomach. A portion of the intestines is taken up and attached to the new pouch. Weight loss happens due to the small amount of intake you can take in and some malabsorption of food. About 92 percent of all gastric procedures for weight loss were the Roux-en-Y type of procedure. Individuals lose about half of their excess body weight within a year of the procedure; it is considered the gold standard of weight loss procedures. Two thirds of the expected weight is lost after 2 years.

Risks of having Roux-en-Y procedure include anesthesia complications, infection from surgery, bleeding complications, breakdown of the staples put into the stomach and gallbladder disease. Some people need additional surgery if the staples breakdown or leak into the abdomen, causing abscesses or infection. The amount of weight loss you sustain depends on your ability to follow the diet plan after the procedure and your ability to exercise along with restricting your diet.

Vertical Band Gastroplasty

Vertical band gastroplasty is a gastric banding procedure. Eighty percent of those having this procedure lose at least some weight, while 30 percent are able to lose all their excess weight. On average, the long term success rate is between 40 and 60 percent of excess body weight is lost after three years.

There are risks with gastric banding procedures that are different from the Roux-en-Y procedure. The gastric band is placed around the stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch. The band can slip off the stomach, ruining the surgery and necessitating further surgery. Worse yet, the band can erode through the stomach wall, necessitating surgery to fix the erosion into the stomach. Only about 20 percent of patients are able to keep the weight off after ten years.

Lap Band Procedure

The Lap Band procedure is also called the adjustable gastric banding procedure. This involves the surgeon using laparoscopic surgery to insert a band that can be adjusted to make a bigger or smaller doughnut-shaped band around the stomach. The band is filled with water so that it is full and keeps the stomach pouch smaller. After about three years, 62 percent of individuals lose at least 25 percent of the excess weight. Only 10 percent lose at least 75 percent of their excess weight. The major complications are failure to lose weight after the procedure and erosion of the lapband into the stomach tissue. The lapband can also slip off, especially after leakage of water from the band.

Distal Gastric Bypass Billiopancreatic Diversion Procedure

The distal gastric bypass billiopancreatic diversion procedure is not done that often because it is a severe procedure that often results in malnutrition. The procedure, on the other hand, offers the best weight loss with an average weight loss of between 75 percent and 80 percent of the excess weight.


About 20 percent of those having weight loss surgery suffer from one or more complication. Those who have vertical gastric band surgery have a 20 percent chance of needing a second procedure because of a complication of the first procedure. One report showed a one percent chance of erosion into the stomach, requiring immediate emergency surgery following the lap band procedure.

Complications from bariatric surgery are in excess of 10 percent and about 1 percent of complications require an additional hospital stay of greater than a week. These include rupture of blood vessels, infection around the diaphragm, liver or heart complications, bleeding of the stomach, bleeding of the intestines, blood clots and small bowel blockage.

Complications involving a hospital stay of less than 7 days happen in over 5 percent of cases. These include wound infections, splenic injury and breathing problems following surgery. Abdominal hernias are common with open procedures but less common with laparoscopic surgery. Gallstones also develop more commonly than in normal people (about 33 percent). This may necessitate a second surgery to remove the gallbladder.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies occurring after weight loss surgery include anemia, osteoporosis, other bone diseases and vitamin deficiencies. Nutritional deficiencies occur in almost 30 percent of cases of bariatric surgery. Bariatric patients need to take extra vitamins and minerals in order to combat deficiencies.

Risks & Hazards

Bariatric surgery is a more tenuous surgery than most, in part because of the types of patients involved in having the surgery. Around 1 percent of all cases of bariatric surgery end in death of the patient from things like heart disease, pulmonary embolus, infections and other complications. Those that have their surgery from inexperienced surgeons or surgery centers that aren’t expert at doing these procedures have a higher death rate than those from an expert surgeon or expert surgery center.

According to relevant studies, those who are overweight have up to a 100 percent increased risk from various causes, especially with a body mass index of greater than 30. This is much worse in those who are African American, who can lose up to 20 years of life by being overweight to the degree of having a BMI of 45.

Negligence & Medical Malpractice

Doctors can be negligent in doing bariatric surgery which can result in a medical malpractice lawyers lawsuit. The major cases of negligence with the LapBand procedure and the vertical banding procedure include the slippage of the doughnut-shaped device or tightening it so tight that the gastric outlet is minimized and the band erodes into the stomach wall. Extra bleeding can be due to surgical negligence, especially with laparoscopic procedures. Doctors can fail to do the procedure with the right amount of sterile technique, leading to local infection or disseminated infection.

Complications don’t always mean that medical malpractice has occurred. Negligence happens when the doctor fails to do something within medical guidelines that results in an injury happening to the patient. It is up to a second medical opinion and a legal opinion to know when negligence has been the cause of the patient’s death or injury.

LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here