Weight-Loss Surgery Benefit: Live Longer
In fact, if you’re a middle-aged man or woman, having weight-loss surgery could lower your death rate by 50 percent. Research published in JAMA shows that for some people it may be less risky in the long run to have weight-loss surgery than to try non-surgical weight-loss strategies.
“Surgery sounds like a radical approach to managing obesity, and a lot of people reject it because it seems like a risky thing to do, but it’s actually less risky to have the surgery,” said study co-author Dr. Philip Greenland, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a news release.
The findings are significant as many people who have obesity face the decision of whether to have surgery. All surgery carries risk.
Weight-Loss Surgery Benefit: Lower Death Rate
This study, based on electronic health records from an HMO in Israel, looked at detailed data on 33,540 obese individuals for up to a decade.
“We showed that a long-term effect of bariatric surgery is a longer life for obese patients,” Greenland said. “They had half the death rate, which is significant.”
The rate of death in individuals who did not have surgery was 2.3 percent compared to 1.3 percent in those who had surgery. The study compared 8,385 people who had the surgery (65 percent women and 35 percent men) to 25,155 who did not. In the U.S, the majority of people who have bariatric surgery are women.
The average age of a person in the study was 46 years old with a body mass index of 40. BMI is a measure of body fat based on weight in relation to height.
“Bariatric surgery is an increasingly frequent treatment for severe obesity,” said study co-author Laura Rasmussen-Torvik, an assistant professor of preventive medicine at Feinberg. “It’s highly effective in promoting weight loss but also invasive and can lead to short- and long-term complications. In order for patients and doctors to make the best-informed decisions about what weight loss strategies to pursue, they need to understand the true costs and benefits of the procedures.”
In 2011, 158,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in the U.S. and in 2016, 216,000 were performed, a 37 percent increase.
While the short-term benefits of weight loss surgery — such as weight loss and better control of diabetes and blood pressure — are well known, there is concern about complications from the surgery. Among the concerns are malabsorption of nutrients including vitamin deficiency, anemia and protein deficiency. But there was not a higher rate of anemia, vitamin or protein deficiency among those who had surgery in this study.
The study looked at three types of bariatric surgery compared to the usual care by a primary care physician, which may include dietary counseling and behavior modification. The surgery types included roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy.
It’s important to discuss any weight-loss surgery benefit and risk with your health provider and surgeon before making a decision. Patients interested in losing weight through bariatric surgery can attend an educational seminar at Bon Secours Surgical Weight Loss Center.
Source: Northwestern University news release