More Visits, More Weight Lost

Gastric bypass patients lose more weight after going to recommended number of follow up appointments

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Stapling the stomach can help with weight loss. Those who check up with their doctor more often after surgery tend to lose even more. 

Patients who go to five follow-up visits within two years after surgery lost almost twice as much weight as those who only went to two follow-up visits, a new study has found.

Researchers said that follow-up with a doctor results in optimal weight loss, and that patients with greater motivation for personal health were more likely to attend office visits.

"Go to all follow-up appointments."

The study, led by Charlene Compher, PhD, professor of nutrition science at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, included 64 patients with a body mass index (a measure of weight and height together) greater than 35 kilograms per square meter.

All had gastric bypass surgery from a surgeon at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. The surgery involves making the stomach smaller so patients feel fuller faster.

Patients also had at least one illness related to obesity, including diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea osteoarthritis, stroke or gallstones. A psychologist evaluated the patients, who were taught about nutritional and psychological issues related to gastric bypass surgery.

Researchers measured patients' body mass index before and after surgery. They kept track of how much weight patients lost a month and a half after surgery, as well as six, 12 and 24 months later. A little more than half the patients attended five follow-up sessions; the rest went to two. The group as a whole recorded weight loss at each follow-up meeting.

Two years after surgery, patients who attended the recommended number of follow-up visits lost 113 pounds on average.  Those who only went to two follow-ups lost 57 pounds. Researchers also found that patients who had less weight to lose before surgery lost the most number of pounds.

Patients who keep track of their own weight tend to underreport it, the authors noted. In addition, the authors worked with a small number of patients and were unable to contact more to enroll in their study, as the hospital's database contacts were outdated.

Future research should look into what motivates patients to go to follow-up visits or why they do not go in the first place.

The study, funded by grants from the University of Pennsylvania, was published recently in the Obesity Surgery journal. The authors do not report any conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
November 24, 2012
Last Updated:
March 22, 2013