Gastric Bypass Surgery Has Lasting Results, Study Shows

laparoscopic weight loss surgeryResearch has now conclusively demonstrated that people who undergo Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery both lose weight and permanently keep that weight off. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that severely obese patients can expect the benefits from gastric bypass surgery to last for at least six years after their surgery.

In the study, patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery had lost, on average, nearly 35 percent of their initial weight two years after the date of their surgery. After six years, they had kept off an average of 27.7 percent of their initial weight. More than three quarters (76 percent) of the study’s participants kept off more than 20 percent of their initial weight loss.

The results contrast starkly with those obtained by study participants who did not undergo surgery; those patients remained at the same weight, regardless of the treatments or interventions they received. In short, the latest findings prove unequivocally that weight loss surgery has real and lasting benefits.

“I think the most important aspect of this paper is its long-term nature. This is the largest and longest exclusive gastric bypass study to date,” lead author and principal research investigator, Ted D. Adams, PhD, MPH, program director of the Health and Fitness Institute at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, commented in an interview with General Surgery News.

The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, supports other recent findings concerning the long-term benefits of gastric bypass surgery by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In the latest study, researchers tracked data for 1,156 severely obese individuals between 18 and 72 years old, from which 418 patients underwent gastric bypass surgery. Their long-term results were compared with results from a group who did not have surgery (n=417) but were seeking it, and a control group whose members had no history of bariatric surgery (n=321).

In addition to considerable weight loss, the 418 patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery realized a number of important benefits: their metabolic and cardiovascular risk profiles were improved; they saw a decrease in fasting glucose and an increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels; and they had improved remission rates of hypertension.

Dr. Adams highlighted the importance of these findings, noting in the interview, “The benefits [of surgery] go way beyond weight loss. We also found that patients who had the surgery were less likely to develop serious health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”

The 738 individuals who did not undergo bariatric surgery did not realize the kinds of health benefits their peers did. Dr. Adams, reflecting on the study’s results, commented that lifestyle approaches, like exercise and diet, can have a positive impact on a person’s health but generally are not very successful long-term.

Dr. Adams is planning a longer, 10-year follow-up study to confirm the recent study results.

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