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Weight Loss Surgery May Benefit Older Adults

Study Shows Weight Loss Surgery Is Safe and Effective for Patients Over 65

Weight Loss Surgery in Older Adults continued...

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.

Cost of Weight Loss Surgery

The procedures can be expensive.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, bariatric surgery costs range from $20,000 to $25,000.  

Insurance may cover the procedure if it’s medically appropriate and could correct obesity-related illnesses.

“It’s a big chunk of money up front to pay for the operation, but after three or four years, you actually see a return on investment and the surgery itself is cost-effective from a national health care point of view,” Magnuson says.

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