Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss Surgery Health Center

Font Size

Weight Loss Surgery Makes Life Better for Obese

Gastric Bypass Boosts Mental, Physical Health -- but Complications Common

WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 17, 2005 - Gastric bypass surgery greatly improves a person's quality of life, but it isn't a bed of roses, new studies show.

A spate of new studies gives a clearer picture of the risks and benefits of weight loss surgery. The studies also raise the question of what increasing numbers of patients mean for American society.

Three of the studies and two editorials on the issue appear in the Oct. 19 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The publication is timed for release during this week's annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) in Vancouver, Canada.

Editorialist Bruce M. Wolfe, MD, professor of surgery at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, says that despite a lot of media discussion, facts on weight loss surgery have been hard to come by.

"Being severely overweight is life threatening and associated with many related diseases," Wolfe tells WebMD. "Major weight loss is beneficial to these patients. That isn't very controversial. The primary issue is this: Can weight loss achieved by surgery be done safely, or are the risks and complications of the surgery such that this intervention should not be applied?"

Life Quality After Weight Loss Surgery

Psychologist Ronette Kolotkin, PhD, wondered whether people who undergo weight loss surgery actually benefit. She led a team that looked at three matched groups of obese people: 223 gastric bypass surgery patients, 110 people denied weight loss surgery by their insurance providers, and a comparison group of 189 people who did not seek obesity surgery.

Two years after surgery, patients averaged a 34% drop in body weight, Kolotkin reported at the NAASO meeting. Those denied surgery managed to lose 6.2% of their body weight, and those who did not seek surgery got 0.6% heavier.

All of the study subjects filled out quality-of-life questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study. Nearly all the surgery patients -- 98% of them -- reported meaningful increases in their quality of life. This was true for only 46% of those denied surgery and for only 30% of the comparison group.

"After gastric bypass surgery, people describe dramatic, life-altering changes. They feel like they have gotten their lives back," Kolotkin tells WebMD. "They feel vastly more able to have good quality of life and are not so focused on health and weight. They have more energy. They feel better day to day. They feel more productive at work, more sexy, more like going out and being with people and being physically active."

The difference may have been even greater than the study measured. Kolotkin says surgery patients told her that before surgery, they hadn't fully realized the impact their obesity had on their lives.

Today on WebMD

mid section view of a woman measuring her waist
Procedures to choose from.
stomach
What to expect.
 
Doctor Examining Male Patient With Hip Pain
Common questions answered.
Woman weighing self after drinking water
Get the facts.
 
calculate your bmi
Tool
Healthy woman eating for a healthy lifestyle
Quiz
 
Obesity What Does It Mean
Medical Reference
clams
Quiz
 
Types Of Weight Loss Surgery
Medical Reference
woman eating apple
Article
 
BHC Eating and Nutrition Healthcheck
Evaluator
Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss
Article