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New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that patients experience long-term reductions in pain and an increase in mobility following bariatric surgeries like the gastric bypass operation.
The study followed more than 2,200 men and women at 10 participating hospitals across the United States for three years after their operations and found that “50 to 75 percent of adults with severe obesity who had bariatric surgery experienced clinically significant improvements in pain, physical functioning and walking time,” according to the study’s author, Wendy King – an Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Patients selected for the study had a median age of 47 and a median BMI of more than 45, which is considered severely obese (to have a BMI greater than 45, a six foot tall male would need to weigh more than 150kg).
Most of the patients had the gastric bypass operation before the study commenced. The gastric bypass is the most common laparoscopic bariatric operation performed in the U.S., and is considered the “gold standard” weight control operation.
The procedure works by essentially bypassing the stomach and causing food to enter a small gastric pouch; resulting in appetite suppression, earlier satiation (fullness) and an aversion to sugary and fatty foods. Ultimately, the procedure results in a loss of 50-70% of excess weight for most patients. Patients in the study saw an average weight loss of 28% over the three year period.
But the study’s most promising results related to improvements in mobility and pain reduction.
At the start of the study, only 56% of patients – just over half – were able to walk a quarter mile (about 400 metres) in seven minutes. At the end of the three years, that number increased significantly to 74% of the patients.
Close to three quarters of patients with severe hip or knee pain or disability when the study began saw improvements in symptoms of osteoarthritis by the study’s third year as well. Their prior joint pain and restrictions in mobility were attributed to joint damage that was itself caused by carrying excessive weight.
Following the weight loss resulting from the bariatric operations, strain on weight-bearing joints like hips and knees was lessened, reducing pain and inflammation as well.
Some of the patients were able and opted for joint replacement surgery during the study period, following the advice of many doctors to lose weight before undertaking joint surgery.
At Adelaide Bariatric Centre we believe that the best weight loss results come from holistic, multidisciplinary approaches in which both surgery and exercise form important parts. Exercise is a vital element of any weight loss or management strategy and is absolutely essential to maintaining weight loss long term.
King’s three-year study highlights that bariatric surgery, in addition to resulting in weight loss itself, can improve mobility and pain reduction – making exercise easier, helping rehabilitation and leading to better recovery overall.
Learn more about King’s study or contact Adelaide Bariatric Centre today to learn about how bariatric surgery can help with weight loss and improve your quality of life.