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Weight Loss Surgery in Older Adults continued...

Patients included in the study had body mass indexes (BMIs) over 35. Each had undergone one of the following procedures: an open or laparoscopic gastric bypass, an open duodenal switch, laparoscopic gastric banding, or a vertical banded gastroplasty.

Seventy-two people died during the study. Eight were over age 65.

The risk of dying within 30 days of bariatric surgery was 0.12% for adults aged 35 to 49, 0.21% for those aged 50 to 64, and 0.4% for those over age 65.

After researchers took into account a host of factors thought to affect the outcome of weight loss surgery, including weight, gender, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney function, they found that risk of death for seniors was not statistically significant, meaning that the numbers didn’t show a true difference.

Compared to middle-aged adults, older adults also did not appear to be at any increased risk of having major adverse events, like heart attacks, strokes, and serious infections, after their procedures.

Seniors did have longer hospital stays than younger adults, however, especially if they were over age 70 and the procedure involved opening the abdomen.

Prolonged hospital stays were considered to be anything over three days for a laparoscopic procedure and anything over six days after an open surgery.

Adults aged 65 to 69 had a 20% increased risk of a prolonged hospital stay after a laparoscopic procedure and an 80% increased risk of a prolonged hospital stay after an open procedure compared to those younger than 50.

For those over 70, there was no increased risk after a laparoscopic procedure, but a more than fourfold higher risk of a prolonged hospital stay after an open procedure.

“We tend to focus on younger patients, but obesity affects younger people as well as older people,” Magnuson says.

“Studies like this point out that indeed the risk of surgery isn’t any greater in carefully selected elder patients than younger patients,” he tells WebMD.

For bariatric surgery patients of any age, things that did appear to predict the likelihood of a poor outcome included having type 2 diabetes, being a man, or having a BMI over 55, Dorman says.

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