Obesity Surgery to Lose Weight Has Its Pros and Cons
In one of the most rigorous studies of its kind, obesity surgery to lose weight was seen to work much better at reducing and even reversing diabetes than medication and lifestyle changes. However, the researchers and others warn that possible serious complications need to be considered. The yearlong study indicates that the most common weight loss surgery, gastric bypass, can effectively treat diabetes in patients with mild to moderate obesity.
This is particular with those who are 50 to 70 pounds overweight. This is according to researchers from the Journal of the American Medical Association. Other studies have shown the operation can reverse diabetes in severely obese patients after the patient is able to lose weight and maintain it. Within a year of the operation about a third of the 60 adults who got bypass surgery in the new study developed serious problems.
That rate is similar to what’s been seen in previous studies. For the most serious complications like infections, intestinal blockages, and bleeding, the rate was 6 percent, slightly higher than in earlier research. The most dangerous complication occurred in one patient when stomach contents leaked from the surgery site, leading to an overwhelming infection and brain injury.
A journal editorial says such devastating complications are rare, but that “the frequency and severity of complications … is problematic” in the study. Actually, the best way to treat patients with both obesity and diabetes “remains unknown.” To determine if obesity surgery to lose weight is an appropriate way to treat diabetes in patients at least 100 pounds overweight, a research review in the journal said more long-term evidence on risks and benefits is needed.
About 160,000 people nationwide undergo various types of obesity surgery each year. Bypass surgery involves stapling the stomach to create a small pouch and attaching it to a lower part of the intestines. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery says obesity surgery to lose weight is safe and that the death rate is less than 1% lower than for gallbladder and hip replacement surgery.