Weight Loss Surgery More Effective in Less Obese Patients

Weight loss surgery can be more effective in patients who are less obese, leading to greater weight loss and a 100 percent rate of remission from type 2 diabetes, a recent study shows.

According to a recent study by researchers at Stanford University, weight loss surgery can be more effective when performed on patients who have a lower body mass index (BMI). Previously, weight loss surgery was restricted to clinically obese patients with a BMI above 40; however, the FDA recently approved adjustable gastric banding surgery for patients with BMIs of 30 or above with an obesity-related medical condition. This change in FDA policy made it possible for researchers at Stanford to see the results of early intervention in cases of morbid obesity.

The study was performed on 981 patients with BMIs that ranged from below 35 to above 50. Patients with the lowest BMIs experienced more weight loss that patients with higher body mass index. In addition, surgeons required less time to actually perform the gastric bypass surgery or Lap-Band procedure for patients with lower BMIs. Patients with a BMI of 35 or below also experienced a 100 percent remission rate from type 2 diabetes. Those with a BMI higher than 35 experience a remission rate from Type 2 diabetes of only 75 percent.

“This initial study suggests the sooner we can treat morbid obesity and obesity-related conditions, the greater the chances the patients will have better results without any differences in complications,” said Dr. John Morton, Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of Bariatric Surgery at Stanford Hospital & Clinics at Stanford University and a co-author of the study.

In contrast, Dr. David Kendall of the American Diabetic Association, was more cautiously optimistic about the study findings.

“While these are exciting and interesting findings, it is really the first set of evidence that looks at this specifically,” he said. “We need more research with larger groups and for longer periods of follow-up before we can really start ringing the bell. More generally, the other thing I would add is that while bariatric surgery has on several occasions shown impressive results across various bands of weight, people need to be reminded that even modest weight loss and improved glucose control in the absence of surgery can help immensely in terms of diabetes control.”

The study findings were published last month at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

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