Signs that an adjustable gastric band has slipped include nighttime coughing, extreme heartburn, pressure in the chest, difficulty eating solid foods and vomiting saliva, according to Lloyd Stegemann, MD, FASMBS for Obesity Action Coalition. Band slips are very uncommon but require immediate attention from a doctor or surgeon.
Gastric band slips can occur at any point after surgery even if patients have had their bands for several years without experiencing complications with them in the past, notes Stegemann. A band slip is the physical displacement of the lower pouch of the stomach into the top of the band, which constricts the opening and causes solid food to collect in the upper pouch. This can place undue pressure on the stomach below the band and cut off its blood supply, signaling a medical emergency. These situations are very rare, and most band slips are easily fixed.
Surgeons are likely to investigate possible slips by ordering an upper gastrointestinal test to gain visibility into the behavior of the stomach. Gastric bands are controlled by a port and tubing system that allow doctors to manage the tightness of the bands at any time. Small band slips are sometimes repaired by deflating some of the liquid from the band and allowing the lower stomach pouch to return to its original position. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to correct a band slip, according to Stegemann.