Bariatric Sugery Effective, But Questions About Complications Remain: Study

New research suggests that complications from bariatric surgery may pose serious concerns, although the findings also demonstrate that the procedure is effective in long-term weight loss and type 2 diabetes remission for patients.

In a study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers at the Multidisciplinary Workshop convened in May 2013 by National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute reviewed randomized clinical trials involving bariatric surgery patients.

Several small randomized clinical trials and large observational studies with long-term follow up were examined, finding that individuals who underwent bariatric surgery had greater weight loss than non-surgical procedures. These patients also experienced a reduction in type 2 diabetes, which remained steady during the first two years following surgery.

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The large long-term observational studies also found evidence of long-term weight loss outcomes for patients who underwent bariatric surgery, with patients also experiencing improvements in diabetes and cholesterol.

Long-Term Bariatric Surgery Complications

Despite favorable outcomes of weight loss for bariatric surgery, researchers remain concerned about long-term complications from bariatric surgery, including reduced long-term survival rates and risks of microvascular and macrovascular events, negative mental health outcomes and increased costs.

Researchers insist more information and long-term studies are needed to determine long-term outlook and complications after bariatric surgery. Despite the popularity of the procedures, no long-term studies of this type have been conducted.

“The studies needed to address these knowledge gaps would be expensive and logistically difficult to perform,” said study researchers.

Most of the studies needed to determine the information researchers are hoping to find would need to be carefully designed observational studies.

Research published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found results for patients who undergo bariatric surgery will vary widely from person to person.

The majority of patients experienced weight loss and disease reduction one year after surgery. Yet, 30% of patients experienced partial remission three years later; suggesting the results did not last.

Another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013 found many patients who underwent bariatric surgery experienced higher rates of complication if a surgeon with less experience conducted the surgery.

Surgeons with the lowest ratings had higher percentages of complications and higher death rates following weight loss procedures.

Undergoing bariatric surgery increased a patients risk of substance abuse and alcohol addiction, concluded the findings of a study published in 2012. Researchers revealed patients were more likely to consume higher amounts of alcohol after bariatric surgery.

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