"Has anybody seen my pen?"
Gastric bypass is the most common bariatric surgery in the U.S. The odds of dying from that procedure are roughly 1 in 200. Thousands of people sign on the dotted line for it every year. Why do they take that risk?
A recent study out of Sweden shows that people who undergo various bariatric surgeries reduce their risk of death over the next 11 years by 25%.
In the Swedish Obese Subjects Study, 2010 subjects underwent bariatric surgery and 2037 received conventional treatment. Overall mortality was recorded over the next 11 years. Only three of the subjects were lost to follow-up (unknown whether alive or not). The average body mass index (BMI) for all subjects was 41.
Out of the conventional treatment group, 126 died. In the surgery group, only 101 died. Average weight change in the conventional treatment group was up or down only 2%. People in the surgery group were given one of three operations: gastric bypass, vertical-banded gastroplasty, or banding. After 10 years, average weight loss of the groups was 25%, 16%, and 14%, respectively.
Over the course of 11 years, people in the surgery group had 25% less chance of dying when compared to the conventional treatment group. The most common causes of death were heart attacks and cancer.
Even better results were found back in the U.S. Researchers in Utah looked at mortality rates of 7925 patients who had undergone gastric bypass surgery between 1984 and 2002. They compared death rates to a control group (also 7925 people) of obese people who applied for driver’s licenses. Subjects were matched for sex, body mass index, and age. Average BMI of the surgical group was 45.
Over the course of seven years, there were 321 deaths in the control group and 213 in the surgery group. Deaths from any cause were reduced by 40% in the surgery group, compare to the control group. Surgery patients had less death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Surgery is definitely a roll of the dice. Now you know why people play the game.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Sjostrom, Lars, et al. Effects of Bariatric Surgery on Mortality in Swedish Obese Subjects. New England Journal of Medicine, 357 (2007): 741-752.
Adams, Ted, et al. Long-Term Mortality after Gastric Bypass Surgery. New England Journal of Medicine, 357 (2007): 753-761.