Living With My Lap Band – How to Deal With PBs Or A Yak Attack

by sandi on August 1, 2012

Eight years, 2 months and 2 days.  That’s how long it’s been since my lap band surgery.  Would I do it again?  You bet, I don’t even have to think about that one.  Why?  Because I am not hungry all of the time, emotional eating is in much smaller portions, I have a life, and I am keeping my weight in check and have resolved my medical issues.  Drawbacks to the lap band – PBs (productive burps) or “getting stuck” or just having to revisit that one bite too much.  That’s it – the only drawbacks to lap band surgery that I could come up with.  The rest of it has been one amazing journey that thrills and astonishes me each and every day.  I look forward to feeling this way every day for a very long time (the rest of my life).

Stuck -- Again!So what does that have to do with PBing or getting stuck?  Nothing and everything.  Why do we PB?  Lots of possibilities here – let’s review my experiences.  I PB or get stuck when:

  • I take too big a bite
  • I don’t chew thoroughly
  • I eat too fast
  • I don’t put the fork down between bites
  • I am stressed and my band is tight because of the stress
  • I am trying to eat too early in the morning before my band has “relaxed”
  • When the food is too dry or inappropriate for a lap band (can you say bread?)
  • When I am talking and eating – I can only do one or the other
  • When I ignore my body and take one bite past done

Is there a common thread here?  You bet.  All of these “causes” for PBs or getting stuck are well within my control.  They are the result of not being MINDFUL, not paying attention to eating.  I can make choices that keep this horribly uncomfortable situation from happening, but, as I’ve said many times before I am human and therefore not perfect.  Guilty as charged.  Even 8 years, 2 months and 2 days after surgery I still make those same mistakes on occasion.  As a matter of fact we can add trying to drink a very cold protein shake late in the evening when I am tired…didn’t think the ultimate slider food, a protein shake could cause problems, WRONG!  It was cold, I was tired and as soon as it hit my band it was nope, not staying down.  That was a new one.  I must admit, sometimes my band is just being finicky, but that doesn’t happen often. 

Now comes the tricky part.  So you are out at a restaurant, or at home and have your favorite meal in front of you and you are starving.  You have eaten it before with no problems.  You take a bite or two and this time that meal is not working.  You get that awful feeling, that tightness in your chest, that pain, that notice from your stomach that this not good and may not stay where it belongs and off to the restroom you go.  Five or ten minutes later you’re back at the table, your nose is no longer running, your eyes are no longer tearing and you desperately want another bite.  Do you take it?  My experience tells me no.  You have obviously caused some irritation and more solid food causing more irritation is probably the last thing that you need.  I know, you’ve tried it 10 times and it has worked at least 5 of those.  But what happens the other times?  Here we go again, with just a little more pain, a little more irritation, and probably a longer wait until solids are “safe” again. 

You choose.  Chance it and try to eat, or wrap it up for tomorrow and have a cup of something warm and then later, after that settles and sits fine, maybe a protein shake.  If the protein shake causes no issues you can have something soft for your next meal and then back to solids again.  If everything is good you are fine.  If solids are still an issue it’s time to call your surgeon and get some medical advice.  Everything I’ve said before this is based on 8 years, 2 months and 2 days of personal experience.

Too tight bandSo we have talked about the occasional stuck incident when not paying attention to eating mindfully, chewing thoroughly, etc.  What happens if we are constantly PBing or getting stuck?  If it happens frequently YOU ARE PROBABLY ADJUSTED TOO TIGHT.  The lap band is a tool that assists you in being satisfied with small portions, not a tool that is to be tightened to where you can’t eat a small portion of good, dense protein without throwing it right back up.  You can hurt yourself doing that so please be kind and learn how to make good food choices that provide the satiety with a properly adjusted band.  Just because the doc gave you a fill doesn’t mean that he knew exactly how much it would take for you to be adjusted properly.  You can call right away to have some fluid removed.  It will not hurt his feelings or the feelings of his/her nurse or PA.  Please believe me when I say they do not want you to be too tight because you’ll either get sick or subsist on ice cream and cookies, neither one will let them count you as a success.

Why do I write this now, after 8 years, 2 months and 2 days you ask?  Because for the first time in my banded history I think I may be just a hair too tight.  My last adjustment was teeny tiny – it was.  2 ccs – yes, you read that correctly, 2/10ths of a cc.  I find myself burping more often and when my stomach is empty feeling something that may be a little bit of “heartburn” or may not be – it is so strange since I have had zero reflux in the past 8 years since my surgery.  What have I done about it?  I have spoken with the doctor, he has done a TNE (trans nasal endoscopy) and ruled out any internal issues.  I’m happy about that.  Now I am going to do a “swallow” or esophogram and he expects to find that I am just a shade too tight.  I’ll ask him to remove  .10 cc (1/10th) if that’s the case and we’ll take it from there.

Remember, this is a journey to good health, not a contest to see how little you can eat and survive.  Our task is to learn how to eat good, nutrient rich food in small portions to get to a healthy weight and maintain it so we can live our lives to the fullest, free from the burdens of obesity.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue December 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I really appreciated your story. This is just one more night of being miserable and i tried to eat chili! Nothing seems to be working lately and even beverages are causing problems. Here it is Christmas Eve and I feel like crap! The constant burping is very annoying, we keep getting invited to go out with friends and I worry about what I’m gonna do when its time to eat. I have not had a fill in months but the last couple months have been horrible! It was just 2 years for me and I have lost about 120- 130 lbs and I surely dont want to go backwards but something has to change!

Krystal Camardi April 12, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I read this story and laughed because this is the story of my life. I was banded a yr ago and was unable to eat for a few weeks I thought it was me and I wasn’t eating right. Then I was unable to have liquids I became dehydrated so sick I couldn’t move. I rushed to the er where my dr does the surgeries. He emptied my band completely I drank water to flush my stomach he said there was a possibility of food being stuck being that I already did that nasty esphogram and it looked normal. He filled my band back up but left me at 6.5cc instead of the 7 5cc I was and I feel great and I’m eating with out it coming back up.

Becky May 27, 2013 at 2:39 am

I have a lot of these type issues, I have had my band for three years and my weight bounces a lot.
My surgeon tends to empty me all the way out if I have any complaints at all and then puts it back so slowly that my weight loss has only been about 35 pounds in three years.
I struggle a lot with food choices, anyone have any suggestions or food lists? I went to see the Nutritionist who works in my surgeons office but she just kept discussing balanced diets and such when I need someone to help me with the right foods to eat to not get stuck.

Vicki July 9, 2013 at 9:52 am

Did anyone ever answer Becky’s Question? I’m haveing the same problem.

sandi July 9, 2013 at 10:01 am

You can all go to and click on recipes for a long list of band friendly ideas.We are going for protein first, tiny bites, chewing each bite 30 times and keeping our “stuck” incidents to a minimum that way. If we do have a “stuck” incident be aware that you have “irritated” the area around your band and go back to liquids for 12 hours or so and then progress back to soft foods and then solid protein as it is comfortable. Everyone’s band is different but most of us have problems with bread, rice, pasta and dry chicken or fish. We tend to overcook everything so be careful that you take things out of the oven, off the stove, or off the grill when they are just done, before they are overdone. Bites the size of your thumbnail help also. chewing throughly and eating slowly and mindfully helps. it is all a BIG change from what we did before surgery. Don’t go for full- go for satisfied..Measure your food and plate ONLY what you intend to eat…no seconds..portion control is critical. Stop before full- stop when you have eaten enough to be no longer hungry, but not full- that is satisfied…also a new experience for us. Does this help some?

hilary August 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Not sure if this has been discussed – I only just discovered this site – but I find the Intermittent Fasting (IF) system very good. I have had my band for eight years and my BMI is now 28 (a little higher than I would like, but I am 62 and look gaunt if I go too low). The IF system I use is to go from 7pm to 9am with nothing but water, then porridge, coffee etc. Then I fast all day and have a bowl of pasta with a little bit of grated cheese at teatime.

I do this twice a week, when possible, and it gives my band a chance to totally empty, and also benefits my general health/weight etc. I have maintained a 4.5 stone loss for many years and only struggle with fibrous veggies or meats.
However I do get frustrated and long to eat huge salads, steaks etc sometimes!

Sara Osborne November 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Here is my situation. I have been banded for 2 years, been WITHOUT a fill for over 9 MONTHS, and everything & anything gets STUCK. Weather I am sucking on a cough drop or a measly sip of coffee…or even a sip of WATER! I can never EAT any food in morning, afternoon, or even evenings- I can occasionally get scraps down at 11pm or midnight. For one year, all I do is live off coffee, its impossible to actually chew or SWALLOW any kinds o types of food, so again, I drink about 12-14 cups of coffee a day to keep me filled. I chew food & spit in bucket! My “stuck” situation never gets better, its like I get heartburn feeling anytime I attempt to eat ANY type of food or even certain drinks (usually cold drinks) it hasn’t in over a year, I am w/out insurance right now because I moved out of state where I originally got banded, but is there anyone out here with my kind of situation!?

sandi November 17, 2013 at 6:31 am

Sara- immediately go see your doctor. Your band is possibly adjusted too tight, but it is a medical issue, not to be solved by those of us who are patients no matter how long we have been banded. I can not encourage you more to seek the aftercare you require and deserve,

Stacey Moore December 9, 2013 at 8:01 am

I just had a fill on 12/5/13
And after two sips of any fluids I start burping!!!
And I can only get down like literally three spoonfuls of food and them I’m burping and sometimes hiccuping.
And I can fill it sitting like right there in my chest for maybe ten mins
Then it goes down…
I don’t see myself getting the appropriate amount of fluids in because I can only get a few sips at a time….
Please give be some info!!!!!

sandi December 9, 2013 at 9:13 am

Stacey call your doctor immediately and have some fluid removed from your band. I expect you are too tight. You want to check out this video that describes it even better than I can in words

Snow March 2, 2017 at 1:35 pm

Hello Their my name is Snow. And I’m speaking on labband. I have been carrying the band around for 9 years, I’ve only had a fill one time. And I still right today can not hold to much food . 3days out of a monthi can hold down a pretty good meal . when my stomach have had enough it comes up . Sometimes I want to go have it taken off cause I want to eat A big thick Hamburger. A piece of chicken. But that just want happen my weight will go up few pounds .and then it goes back down cause the thowing up an it going to let nothing go down . when my stone has gotten full .band get tight and nothing is going doe. And this is 9 years later .

sandi May 9, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Snow you should see your lap band doc as soon as possible. It is not right for you to be throwing up all the time.

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