Studies examine benefits, costs of weight-loss surgeries

Bloomberg News reports that a study appearing in an obesity-themed issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found that “obese people who have weight-loss surgery gain at least six years of health benefits that include fewer diabetes cases and lower cholesterol and blood pressure.”

The article says that “while the advantages linked to diminished fat were found to be durable over six years in a study … a second report tied the surgery to complications such as gallstones and anemia that raised how much patients spent over the same time.”

According to the article, the second study “found that surgery patients spent 54 days in the hospital in the two decades after their operations, compared with 40 days for those in the comparison group.”

In its “Booster Shots” blog, the Los Angeles Times reports that “gastric bypass surgery was shown to help severely obese patients, most of whom after six years had sustained an average weight loss of nearly 28% of their weight.” The blog adds that “in the study of gastric bypass surgery after six years, ‘every cardiovascular risk factor that we studied had improved significantly or remained improved in the patients who had the gastric bypass surgery when compared to those who did not,’ said Ted Adams, one of the researchers from the University of Utah School of Medicine who presented the findings at a briefing.”

Reuters quotes lead author Ted Adams who remarked, “It’s been somewhat in question how durable the weight loss might be.” Meanwhile, Dr. Anita Courcoulas, who wrote commentary accompanying the study, said, “Both in the short and the long term, there are complications and consequences to consider, but that in my opinion … does not (trump) the health benefits.”

Time reports in its “Healthland” blog that a third study “published on in the Archives of Surgery … found that gastric bypass surgery – considered the ‘gold standard’ surgical treatment for obesity – may have a rival: a more complex and less commonly used operation called duodenal switch surgery.”

Researchers “found that duodenal switch patients were also more likely to have control of obesity-related conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea after surgery, especially among participants who started out with a BMI greater than 50.”

However, the article notes that the duodenal switch procedure is riskier, adding that “patients who received duodenal switch had longer surgeries and more blood loss during the operation than gastric bypass patients; they also stayed in the hospital nearly twice as long after surgery, required follow-up surgery more frequently early on, and were significantly more likely to suffer post-operative infections and leaks.”

The Deseret (UT) News reports that study author Ted Adams said that “patients who undergo bariatric surgery should weigh the risks and benefits, and be committed to eat a balanced and healthy diet, as well as participate in regular physical exercise.”

However, Adams remarked, “We discourage the idea that this is a fix-all,” adding that “this is a treatment that has been shown to be successful, but to maximize success long-term, you need to have in place good activity and dietary practices.”

This entry was posted in General Health. Bookmark the permalink.