Think Twice Before Undergoing Gastric Band Surgery for Weight Loss

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants people to think twice before considering gastric band surgeries to lose weight. The agency recently warned a marketing company and its medical partners about their misleading advertisements for gastric band surgery, which fail to present the risks associated with the procedure. Potential candidates should look for better medical information beyond the idealized advertisements for gastric band surgery and know their rights before opting to undergo such a dangerous operation.

Understand the Risks

During a gastric band operation, surgeons insert the band around the top part of the patient's stomach to limit the quantity of food and drink it can hold at one sitting. Typical candidates for this surgery are obese adults who want or need to lose weight for medical reasons. While the gastric band procedure includes the same risks as any major surgery, it also introduces dangers like damaging digestive organs, stretching out the esophagus and causing serious vomiting and nausea. Repeat operations to adjust the band may cause further issues.

Look Beyond Advertisements

Recently, a California marketing firm has come under fire for its advertisements promoting the benefits of gastric band surgery. The firm and its eight affiliated surgical centers, who advertise online, in newspapers and on buses and billboards, are not complying with federal laws requiring medical device ads to directly address associated risks and side effects. While the ads contain some risk information, it is too small to read. Potential gastric band surgery candidates need this information to make informed decisions.

Consider FDA Warnings

According to the FDA, its actions were prompted by complaints from a California public health official. The official was concerned with negative publicity generated by the lack of risks in the gastric band surgery ads and patient deaths from the procedure. The FDA sent warning letters to the marketing firm and its eight surgical partners, who have 15 days to report on their plan to correct the ads. If they do not, the FDA may fine them or seize their gastric band device inventory. Patients should know about these disciplinary actions before opting for gastric band surgery.

Know Your Patient Rights

Patients considering gastric band surgery should know both the benefits and dangers of this procedure, as well as the reputation of the medical professionals and surgical centers performing the operations. Overweight or obese people who have struggled with losing weight may see this surgery as a great option, but they should understand that it is not without risks. Ensuring advertisements and information given to potential gastric band candidates covers all possible results and side effects will help patients make informed decisions.

If you recently underwent this surgery and have suffered negative side effects or other injuries as a result, contact a local personal injury attorney with medical malpractice experience. You may be able to recover compensation for additional medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other costs.