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Weight Loss Surgery May Help Obese Seniors

New Studies Show Benefits of Gastric Bypass and Gastric Banding Surgeries

'Safe and Beneficial'

A third study, done at the Cleveland Clinic Florida, included 31 people aged 65 and older who got gastric banding. Over the next year they had reductions in blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and sleep apnea, among other conditions.

"Laparoscopic gastric banding is a safe and beneficial procedure in the elderly population," say the researchers, who included Flavia Soto, MD.

Surgery Not Without Risks

Weight loss surgery has risks, just like any operation using general anesthesia, says Daud. The risks may be "a little higher" for older patients, she says.

It's important to make sure that diabetes is under control before surgery, says Daud.

Cohen says gastric bypass surgery is the "gold standard." He says gastric banding may have more complications, which can include banding slippage and erosion.

However, Daud says her group had no complications, even minor ones, with gastric banding. The surgeon's experience can be a factor, she says.

She and her colleagues say that based on their results, gastric banding might be the better option for older obese adults.

Cohen and Daud agree that weight loss is slower with gastric banding than with gastric bypass.

Diet, Exercise Still Count

Cohen and Daud both say weight loss surgery can be safe for older obese adults. But they also say that surgery is not the only answer.

Exercise and healthy eating are also important, as at any age, they say.

Of course, it's possible to lose weight without surgery. But it's often difficult for older people, say Cohen and Daud.

"I think support is really important, as well," says Daud. Support groups for patients may be helpful, since families may not understand the issues, she says.

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