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Weight Loss Surgery Saves Lives

News | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

28 Jan 2015 10:26 AM

Bariatric Surgery

According to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, obese people live longer if they choose to undergo a bariatric surgery operation compared to those who don’t elect to have surgery.

Conducted by Dr David Arterburn, a Group Health physician and affiliate associate professor of medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Dr Matthew Maciejewski, a research career scientist in Health Services Research and Development at the Durham VA , the Association Between Bariatric Surgery & Long-term Survival study concluded that surgical patients had a 53% lower risk of dying from any cause at five to 14 years after the procedure.

The Study

The study was designed to examine the long-term survival rate of weight loss surgery patients. Performed as a retrospective cohort study, this extensive and groundbreaking piece of research featured many fascinating features, not the least being the fact that the study’s participants were 75% male. Some of the study’s other features included:

  • 2,500 patients (74% men) participated. These patients had undergone weight loss surgery in Veterans Affairs (VA) bariatric centres between the years 2000-2011.
  • These patients were an average age of 52 years and had an average body mass index (BMI) of 47. 
  • They underwent either gastric bypass (74%), gastric banding (10%), gastric sleeve (1%) or another bariatric procedure (1%).
  • The 2,500 patients were then matched to more than 7,000 control patients of similar ages and BMIs who had not undergone weight loss surgery. 
  • Survival was compared across patients who underwent bariatric surgery and matched controls using Kaplan-Meier estimators.
  • Approximately 55% of participants had type 2 diabetes, while many of the them had other obesity-related conditions.

The Results

During Dr David Arterburn and and Dr Matthew Maciejewski’s 14-year follow-up, the researchers found 263 deaths among patients who had weight loss surgery and 1,277 deaths in the control group.

At 1 year there was little to nothing to report, with the estimated mortality rate for patients who underwent bariatric surgery being 2.4%, compared with 1.7% in the control group.

However, mortality rates for bariatric surgery patients at 5 and 10 years were 6.4% and 13.8%, respectively, compared with mortality rates of 10.4% at 5 years and 23.9% at 10 years within the control group, suggesting that weight loss surgery may significantly improve long-term survival rates.