There are differing opinions, based on a broad set of scientific publication, wether or not gallbladder should be removed at the time of weight loss surgery. Obviously, Cholecystectomy is a stand alone general surgical procedure that is often performed due to gallstones and/or gallbladder disease with a variety of symptoms. However, the focus of this blog will deal with Bariatric Surgery and Cholecystectomy.
Rapid weight loss can increase a patients chance of forming gallstones. This rapid weight loss can be as little as 3-5 pounds per week. Weight loss surgery can increase your risk for gallstone formation. Several of the common thought processes the mechanism of this is, obesity may be linked to higher cholesterol in the bile, larger gallbladders, high fat diet and larger abdominal girth.
When a patient is having the Duodenal Switch (DS) Bariatric operation, or having a revision of a failed gastric bypass to the DS, I always remove the gallbladder. This is because there isn’t an anatomical route to utilize endoscopic procedure for an ERCP should the need rise.
In the case of a patient undergoing Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, if there are any indications or complaints of abdominal pain then an ultrasound is done. If there are findings of gallstones or other disease of the gallbladder, then a cholecystectomy is performed at the same time as the Sleeve Gastrectomy.
In my opinion, every patient having the Gastric Bypass (RNY) should also have the gallbladder removed because of the anatomical limitations after surgery that prevents the use of ERCP if needed. Some clinicians will place the patient on a long term medications to reduce the chance of gladstone formation after surgery, which themselves have side effects limiting the compliance in most patients.
Further information on Common Bile Duct Dilatation and ERCP
PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS is a complex condition. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown however, it involves hormones imbalance and multiple ovarian cysts, irregular menses, and infertility. In some cases, PCOS can be compounded by diabetes, hypertension and other metabolic conditions. PCOS has been shown to effect approximately 10% of women of childbearing age with symptoms of menstrual abnormalities, poly cystic ovaries, and excess androgen (male sex hormone). PCOS should be diagnosed by ensuring there are no other underlying endocrine issues. There are several associated disease processes that seem to be related to PCOS. These related disease processes are Type 2 Diabetes, higher depression and anxiety, increased cardiovascular risks, stroke, hyperlipidemia, sleep apnea, overall inflammation, and endometrial cancer.
Anatomically, numerous cysts are found on the ovaries. These are usually diagnosed by ultrasound, blood levels of hormones, and symptoms described above.
Bariatric Surgery and PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS
Bariatric Surgery can improve PCOS in those individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Further information on weight loss surgery and its effect on PCOS here.
A few times a month during consultation for weight loss surgery , I’m ask as to why I do not offer the adjustable gastric banding as an alternative to the patients. As I have said over the years when a patient considers an weight loss surgery the totality of the risk should be considered. This includes the operative, immediate postoperative course, the maintenance and the follow-ups needed. The potential complications of the procedure in addition to the long-term success off each operation should also be taken into account.
Unfortunately, some patients are led to believe that any perceived benefit in the short operative time and the ease of the adjustable gastric banding also translates to a better outcome. This is in fact the opposite of what the published data have shown, a recent study published in April 2017 by Vinzes et.al, shows that 71% of patient lost their band by 10 years out.
More importantly, The patients who underwent a revision from failed AGB to the duodenal switch operation had the best long term results of all patients (Fig 2.) note the “rBPD” line that is the highest of %EBMIL.
Complication’s were broad and frequent (Table 3.)
Further information on revision from failed AGB to Duodenal Switch or other failed weight loss surgeries can be found here.
It is interesting to encounter patients who are still being recommended for Lap Band placement to treat morbid obesity. There is a vast body of scientific evidence supporting that Lap Band not only does not result in a sustained weight loss for majority of the patients, but that it results in significant long term complications for some.
One of the complications is a significant stricture (narrowing) where the band is located even when it is completely empty. This is cause by:
1- either scarring of the tissue around that band causing a “belt” effect around the stomach, or
There are numerous other complications that are associated with Adjustable Gastric Bands that encompass a wide range of areas that are not discussed in this blog. This recent article (yes another one) outlines the dismal long term outcome of the Adjustable Gastric banding- Buyer Beware.
For years, we have seen patients who have had Adjustable gastric bands placed and continue to suffer from the complications associated with it. Gastric Band complications include erosion, persistent nausea, vomiting abdominal pain, inadequate weight loss and weight regain, etc. . Unfortunately, when seeking help, they are often told that this never happens to others and that complications are a rare occurrence. Let’s remember that the Adjustable Gastric Band was promoted and sold as a procedure with almost no down side, low risk and easily revisable!
There is an unfounded expectation that the band can be deflated and all the Gastric Band complications will resolve. This could not be any further from the truth. The reality is that there are patients whose symptoms may somewhat improve but will continue to have the abdominal pain, the nausea and or vomiting-albreit, not to the same intensity. There are several Gastric Band complications that are considered emergency situations that require immediate attention by a physician.
Our position has always been, and continues to be, that all Adjustable Gastric Bands should be removed by a surgeon who is experienced with the Gastric Band complications and revisions.
A slipped Band emergency
This patient had a Adjustable Gastric Band (AGB) or LapBand place approximately 7 years ago. The last time this patients had a follow up with the surgeon who placed the AGB was 5 years ago. The patients has been having reflux, episodes of Nausea and vomiting on and off for about 2 years requiring multiple medical visits and procedures. He/she has had upper endoscopies, not by the surgical team and was diagnosed with esophagitis.
This patient presented in the Emergency Room with projective vomiting for 24 hours, bloody emesis, and significant dehydration. After obtaining the necessary tests and X-ray studies a plan was constructed. At this time, due to the continuous and significant nature of the symptoms this patient was taken to the Operating Room for emergency AGB removal.
The abdominal X ray showed a slipped band. Following a complicated surgical procedure, the band was removed and a segment of the stomach that had eroded into the stomach was removed. The photograph below shows the end result with a portion of the stomach removed due to the band’s erosion into the stomach.
Additional information regarding complications of Adjustable Gastric Banding here.
The Curved Adjustable Gastric Band will be discontinued. Johnson and Johnson, the parent company of the Ethicon, is removing the Curved adjustable Gastric Band from its’ product line. This particular band is known as the Realize Band launched by Johnson & Johnson and did not gain much traction. The number of Adjustable gastric band placements have gone down significantly as the data have shown poor outcome over long term and a high complication and re-operative rates.
Failed Band: My earliest memory of feeling ashamed of being “too heavy” is from kindergarten. For over 30+ years I have struggled with gaining weight, trying to lose weight, or going mad maintaining my weight. There is no shortcut that does not come back to bite you in the butt. There is no diet that effectively changes you permanently. For me exercise is a mindful struggle I sometimes successfully commit to over small periods of time.
I was desperate and ready for a real change. I wanted a genuine difference in the way I consumed and related to food and decided the lap band was the way to go. It was marketed as a “non intrusive, non permanent, easily reversible weight loss tool” and that is EXACTLY what I thought I needed and wanted. I was so very wrong, after my surgery I was considered a “success”. In fact up until the removal of my second slipped failed band, esophagus damage, and poor nutrition; I was considered a success. I look back and think how troubling this was/is. How very damaging to the person struggling and dealing with weight issues. Truly, it messed with my mind and my ability to speak up, admit to myself and out loud the band was NOT working for me. In fact, if I’m completely truthful, it was dangerous and turned me into a residue of the person I once was. I was not able to eat comfortably or eat out any place I happen to be. With the Band, I would need to consider how long I was going to be away from home because I could only eat small bites in small quantities to ensure I did not get stuck or worse vomit what I put inside my mouth. Yes, I had lost almost 100 lbs, but I had given my quality of life as payment. My guilt ensured I would never speak up or complain since I felt “fortunate” and grateful to have had this second chance at life. In my mind, speaking up meant possibly losing the tool (lap band) that allowed me to change my life and reality. Because for the first time in memory, I was the same weight at the start, middle, and end of the year. I did not have to buy different sizes of clothing or underclothing. I could predict what I might wear since my size was stable and my clothes fit. The reality is and was far from this corrupted self truth. I was unhealthy with the restrictive nature of how the lap band worked. In fact my band slipped twice after a severe stomach virus. I later learned of many other symptoms I was making excuses for and quite frankly straight out ignored.
I met Dr. Keshishian (Dr. K) at my lowest weight and at the lowest point in my health. I finally realized, the lap band needed to come out after it had slipped again. It was clear I needed a doctor who would be straight with me and cared for my health and not his/her “success” rates and have the expertise to deal with my failed band. I researched and called several bariatric surgeons then attempted to make appointments with each to discuss the urgent band removal surgery I needed (not as simple as you would think). I was also hopeful I might have the option to undergo the bariatric sleeve surgery because I knew I would not be able to keep my weight under control on my own. I was unwilling to undergo the emotional and mental torment of gaining and losing weight for the rest of my days. I succeeded in making three appointments and truthfully after meeting and speaking to Dr. K and his office staff I canceled them immediately. Let me start with the staff as that REALLY is important; they help you feel comfortable with the doctor, the procedure, and overall experience. They represent and reflect how the doctor you’re about to see will treat his patients. The expected standard within Dr. Keshishian’s office immediately made me feel like I called the right place. I was taken by the knowledgable, kind tone and efficient manner in which they requested the necessary information to effectively help me get from the starting point to the end goal. When I got to my appointment, Dr. Keshishian BLEW MY MIND. He not only presented himself as an approachable person I immediately felt at ease with but also reveal my concerns and questions. He treated me like a person. This may sound strange but this doctor made me feel like a human being with real concerns. He listened to me, asked questions rather than talked at me, and explained how and what was happening to my body and mind. He spent 3 hours with me to answer all my questions (even if I repeated them), draw diagrams, show me video to better help me understand what was happening, and then just sat with me while I cried for a moment. I cried because my 30+ years journey of ups and downs, crazy and insanity finally led me to the door of a man who understood and knew how to help without judgment. WHICH DOCTOR DOES THIS! None that I know.
My life post surgery is what I always hoped it would be. I am able to eat vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, grains and basically a well rounded diet. What’s amazing is that I naturally do not crave sweets, heavy creamy dressings, sauces and fill up quickly. There is after all a difference between the restriction of a lap band and the feeling of being full with the sleeve which Dr. K patiently explained. Today I am able to go any where, at any time, enjoy the moment and the company rather than worry about what I’m not able to consume. My days of scanning to locate the nearest bathroom in case I need to dash to it are over.
As I write this today, I feel like a real person, not some transient hoping to savor my life at glimpses. I am a person that is balanced in my heart with the average person’s anxiety and mindful eating habits. The sleeve is not a magic end to weight gain, it does give you the fighting chance to make choices in life leading up to results you’re willing to work for.
~ Grateful and Mindful, Hasmik (September 2015 Sleeve Op Patient)
In a recent review article published in the September 2015- Volume 42:10 of General Surgery News, the surgical outcomes of different procedures were summarized. There were evaluated based on a number of measures, including re-operation rates. So interesting to note that the re-operation rate of the duodenal switch is the lowest of all surgical procedures.
A recent study Published in JAMA Surgery, quoted rate of 10-20% of patients who have had anti-reflux surgical procedures will have recurrence of his symptoms within the research data. There are numerous studies that have identified predictive factors leading to return of the symptoms after surgical intervention. Some of these predictive factors are improper diagnosis, inadequate work up and technical issues.
Due to the significant rise of sleeve gastrectomy as well as a high failure rate of the lap band, we have seen several patients presenting with significant reflux disease after weight loss surgery. There is a little scientific data regarding the failure of anti-reflux procedures in patients who have had previous weight loss surgical operations. In our practice, however, we have extensive experience with anti-reflux operations in patient who have had previous weight loss surgeries including Gastric Bypass, Adjustable Gastric Banding, Sleeve Gastrectomy and Duodenal Switch operation.
Improper diagnosis, inadequate work up, and technical issues have been cited as possible causes for recurrence of symptoms in patients who have not had weight loss surgery. One could assume that those variables are still a factor in addition to other factors resulting from a previous weight loss surgery. The complications of a previous weight loss surgery can not be under-estimated; an example would be a patient with significant esophageal motility issues directly related to an Adjustable Gastric Band. Other situations that exacerbate symptoms of reflux are an hour glass shaped sleeve or a stricture mid stomach post Sleeve Gastrectomy or Duodenal Switch.
In our experience, some patients have responded well with anti-reflux surgical procedures and mesh placement if indicated after a compete work up with has included and upper endoscopy, upper GI series, manometry and Ph studies. Any patient with symptoms of reflux after weight loss surgery, should be evaluated, and a complete work up should be performed to establish the proper treatment options. It is not wise to have patients be treated with proton pump inhibitors as a default treatment without a complete work up for any patient with reflux. These class of medications have significant side effects associated with them. Furthermore, prolonged reflux is a factor in development of Barret’s Esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition.