Weight Loss Surgery Makes Life Better for Obese
Gastric Bypass Boosts Mental, Physical Health -- but Complications Common
WebMD News Archive
"The Flum paper identifies populations with a higher mortality risk if
they undergo weight loss surgery," Wolfe says. "These risks are
advanced age, male gender, and lower volume of [weight loss] surgery done by
the surgeon and the medical center in question."
What about patients who aren't Medicare beneficiaries? David S. Zingmond,
MD, PhD, and colleagues at the UCLA Center for Surgical Outcomes and Quality
looked at California patients. Overall, less than 1% of patients died within
one year of surgery.
Complications After Weight Loss Surgery
Death isn't the only bad thing that can happen after gastric bypass surgery.
There can also be surgical complications. How often do these occur? Zingmond's
team looked at this.
They looked at records on the more than 60,000 California patients from 1995
to 2004 who underwent what is now the most common weight loss surgery: the
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.
The first thing Zingmond and colleagues found was that many more people are
having the surgery than ever before. Of the 60,000 patients who underwent the
operation in the 10-year study period, 11,659 had the operation in 2004
The second thing they found was that the operation often has complications.
Obese people have many health problems associated with being obese and end up
in the hospital more often than normal-weight people. In the year before
gastric bypass surgery, nearly 10% of patients had been admitted to the
"In the first year after surgery, about 20% get admitted -- about double
the baseline rate," Zingmond tells WebMD. "It never gets back down to
10% in first three years after surgery. So we see an increase in rates of
Before surgery, most patients were hospitalized for obesity-related
problems. After surgery, most patients were hospitalized for problems arising
from the surgery itself in the first two years. "What it really comes down
to is for potential patients -- at the time of surgery, not after -- to think
about what they are willing to put up with after surgery," Zingmond says.
"Other researchers have done the analyses and found that the benefits far
outweigh the risks for appropriate patients. But people who are overweight will
be more likely to be readmitted to hospital in the first three years after the
procedure. They should be prepared for this."