Study supports bariatric surgery for severely obese

Posted: Feb 28 in Weight Loss Surgery by

Weight loss surgeries, including gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding procedures, have become increasingly popular as a means for morbidly obese people to lose weight. Scientific evidence continues to support the safety and effectiveness of these procedures.

Two recent studies compared the current risks associated with weight loss surgery with the potential benefits. At the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center, researchers looked at data from two national surveys and a recent large observational study on bariatric surgery. They estimated that a 42-year-old woman with a body mass index of 45 would gain an additional three years of life expectancy if she underwent weight loss surgery. It was estimated that a 44-year-old man with the same BMI would gain an additional 2.6 years of life expectancy as a result of having bariatric surgery. The researchers did note that the benefits were slightly less for older patients, but believed that the benefits of weight loss surgery would still outweigh the risks for this group as well.

A second study looked at how hospital restrictions affected the overall risks associated with having weight loss surgery. Researchers from UC Irvine were particularly interested in how a Medicare rule change—one that limited coverage to institutions that performed at least 125 bariatric procedures a year—affected complication rates. They compared data from surgeries performed before the 2006 rule change to data from surgeries performed afterward and found that limiting procedures to high-volume centers helped to shorten the length of hospital stays, lower the mortality rate, and decrease the risk for serious complications after surgery.

As weight loss surgeries become more popular, the surgeons performing these procedures become more experienced and the surgical technology continues to improve. Weight loss surgery has become increasingly less risky, while still providing the benefits associated with significant weight loss.

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