Weight Loss Surgeries Increase Sixfold
4 of 5 Patients Are Women, Study Shows
May 30, 2006 -- There was a nearly sixfold increase in the number of weight
loss surgeries performed in the U.S. between 1998 and 2002, a new
Roughly 14,000 gastric bypass surgeries were conducted in 1998, compared
with nearly 82,600 such surgeries in 2002.
Using hospital discharge data, researchers concluded that the number of
American adults having surgical weight loss procedures rose from 7 per 100,000
to 38.6 per 100,000 during the four-year period.
They attribute the dramatic increase to the introduction of a laparoscopic
adjustable gastric banding surgical procedure following approval by the FDA in
"Although this surgery is more costly and time intensive, patient
recovery times are shorter, and the surgery itself is less invasive,"
researcher Tonya M. Smoot, PhD, and colleagues wrote.
Best Treatment for ObesityObesity Diseases
Weight loss surgery is increasingly being recognized as the most effective
treatment for a host of obesity-related diseases, bariatric and general surgeon
William Richards, MD, tells WebMD. Richards is chief of laparoendoscopic
surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
He points out that at Vanderbilt, 75% of the morbidly obese patients with
type 2 diabetes who have
gastric bypass or gastric banding surgeries are essentially cured of the
disease within a year of having the surgery.
"I consider these procedures less weight loss surgeries than surgeries
to reverse the many deleterious metabolic consequences of being morbidly
obese," Richards says.
"We are treating diabetes, sleep apnea, congestive heart
failure, atherosclerosis, nonalcoholic liver disease, and many other
obesity-related conditions that are life threatening. Surgery is by far the
most effective treatment for these conditions in people who are morbidly
Women Have Surgery More Than Men
Between 80% and 86% of gastric surgeries conducted between 1998 and 2002
were performed on women, according to the new study, which was conducted by
researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and published in the
July issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
Roughly one in five patients had type 2 diabetes, with men more
likely to have the disease than women (30% vs. 17%). The next most commonly
seen medical condition among the obese patients was chronic pulmonary disease,
seen in 14% of women and nearly 4% of men.
The average age of both the male and female surgery patients was 40. In
2002, the most gastric weight
loss surgeries were performed in the South, with 47 procedures for
every 100,000 adults, followed by the Northeast and Midwest with roughly 37
surgeries each, and the West with 28 surgeries for every 100,000 adults.
Bypass vs. Banding
Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is still the most commonly performed
weight loss surgery in the U.S. But more and more patients are opting for
gastric banding, which restricts the amount of food a person can eat by closing
off a portion of the stomach.
Banding has the advantage of being less invasive than bypass surgery. It is
also reversible with removal of the band system. A disadvantage is that banding
requires frequent postsurgical medical visits for band adjustment.
Gastric bypass tends to be a better option for diabetes patients, Richards
says, because the procedure not only restricts the amount of food the stomach
can hold, but restricts calorie and nutrient absorption.
"Gastric bypass has been shown to have a profound effect on diabetes
that is independent of weight loss," he says. "Patients also tend to
lose more weight with this procedure. But if a patient is highly motivated and
is willing to see their surgeon once a month for the first year after surgery
and then four or five times the second year, laparoscopic adjustable gastric
banding may be the best option."