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Interpreting the “Breaking News” on the Bariatric Surgery Front

Published on July 13, 2012

Among the most important things to come out of the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) is the research presented there. This information helps surgeons around the country and across the globe gather, debate, interpret and utilize the latest findings and recommendations to benefit their patients. This year’s meeting was full of inspiring studies involving bariatric surgery and I thought dedicating this week’s post to the highlights would be a great way to help put this information into the hands of the people who need it patients and those who are considering bariatric surgery.

Diabetic gastric bypass surgery patients are more likely to achieve complete resolution of Type 2 diabetes after surgery, when their diabetes hasn’t already progressed to insulin-dependency. Included in this study were findings that a patient’s initial weight before surgery did not impact results. What it also confirmed is the important point that those who chose weight-loss surgery earlier on in their diabetes diagnosis fared better than those who had lived with the disease for many years. Bottom Line: If you’re severely obese, more recently diagnosed with diabetes and seriously considering bariatric surgery, you have great chances of losing weight AND completely resolving your diabetes when you act sooner rather than later.

Not only does bariatric surgery help reverse Type 2 diabetes in severely obese people, it has also been shown to help reverse the effects of kidney disease. Severely obese people who are suffering from chronic kidney disease experience significant improvements in kidney function within one year of undergoing bariatric surgery. While promising, this study also suggests that the earlier chronic kidney disease is treated, the better outcome bariatric surgery actually has on the positive resolution and reversal of symptoms. Bottom Line: If you’re severely obese, in the earlier stages of chronic kidney disease and seriously considering bariatric surgery, you have great chances of losing weight AND healing your kidneys when you act sooner rather than later.

The sleeve gastrectomy procedure is a safe and effective bariatric surgery option. Compared to the gastric bypass and gastric banding surgical options, studies have shown that sleeve gastrectomy is as safe (and in some cases safer) as the gastric bypass procedure and more effective in terms of overall long-term weight loss than the gastric banding procedure. Bottom Line: While gastric bypass surgery is still the most effective option in terms of overall and long-term weight loss, the sleeve gastrectomy procedure can be a safe and effective “middle ground” between the gastric bypass and the gastric sleeve.

Bariatric surgery can cut heart attack and stroke death risk by more than half. While bariatric surgery is hailed as a successful treatment for Type 2 diabetes and morbid obesity, new research suggests it is also an instrumental aid in the fight against heart disease and stroke. This makes sense when we think about all of the ways that severe obesity can negatively affect the majority of our organ systems. Bottom Line: Heart attack and stroke are the #1 and #3 leading causes of death to Americans. Bariatric surgery helps the severely obese guard themselves against the risk by enabling them to achieve a healthier weight, a significant factor in good cardiovascular health.

If you’d like to read a more detailed description of each study, visit the ASMBS website here.

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