Promising Results for Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery led to more pounds shed and remission for type 2 diabetes patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) For people who are obese, weight loss is a crucial part of reducing the risk of heart problems, arthritis and diabetes. Choosing the right path to weight loss is also important.

Researchers recently reviewed 11 trials comparing weight loss surgery to non-surgical treatments. They looked at data on how much weight participants lost, their health status after the surgery and their quality of life.

They found that weight loss surgery led to more lost pounds and improvement in cases of type 2 diabetes. Also, weight loss surgery patients were more likely to report an improved quality of life.

The researchers concluded that the trials show promising results for weight loss surgery.

"If you are obese, talk to your doctor about weight loss surgery risks and benefits."

Viktoria Gloy, of the Basel Institute for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the University Hospital Basel, led the review to see if weight-loss surgery had advantages over non-surgical treatments for obesity.

Obesity is associated with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoarthritis and cancer. Doctors typically advise obese patients to lose weight in order to prevent other health complications.

Weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, is often recommended to people who are obese or severely overweight after dieting has failed.

During bariatric surgery, surgeons either make the stomach smaller using a band around the stomach, remove part of the stomach, or create a stomach pouch and re-route the small intestines to it.

Weight loss surgery is normally only used in severe cases of obesity when health problems begin to emerge. Alternatively, some doctors recommend that obese patients only use exercise and a healthier diet to lose weight.

To compare these two methods, researchers reviewed 11 studies on bariatric surgery versus non-surgical treatment.

Each of the studies had at least six months of follow-up. The participants all had a body mass index of at least 30.

In total, 796 obese people participated in the trials. Researchers noted the participants' changes in weight, body fat, waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, quality of life, and remission from type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or high blood pressure.

The researchers found that participants who received bariatric surgery lost about 26 more kilograms (about 57 pounds) than participants who received non-surgical treatment.

Additionally, patients who underwent surgery had waists that were 16 centimeters (about 6 inches) smaller than patients with non-surgical treatment. Surgical patients also lost more fat mass. 

In the four studies that evaluated remission from type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery participants were five times more likely to achieve remission than those who did not receive surgery. Remission from metabolic syndrome, a combination of conditions that increase a patient's risk of heart disease, was also more common in surgery participants.

Three of the studies asked participants to rate various aspects of their quality of life on a questionnaire. Bariatric surgery participants rated higher in terms of health and related areas in those studies.

Although some of the studies reported adverse events for people who underwent weight loss surgery, there were no heart health events or deaths during follow-up. Some surgical patients became iron deficient. There was one very serious complication in the surgical group, as well as a number of less serious ones.

The researchers also said that results were limited to a two-year follow-up window.

The researchers concluded that weight loss surgery has several health advantages for obese patients over non-surgical treatments. Weight loss surgery patients tended to report an improved quality of life, more frequent remission from type 2 diabetes and greater weight loss.

The study was published in BMJ on October 22.

The researchers did not report any specific funding sources. Some of the researchers are supported by grants, are on advisory boards for medical associations, or have received financial compensation from pharmaceutical companies.

Review Date: 
October 21, 2013
Last Updated:
October 23, 2013