Early weight loss surgery associated with better outcomes
A new study has shown that only one in three patients who undergo bariatric surgery succeed in getting their BMI under 30. However this rate was much higher for those that had surgery under the BMI of 40, regarded as ‘morbid obesity’. The findings of this study are published in JAMA Surgery and they could help surgeons counsel potential patients about the best timing for their surgery and about their weight loss expectations afterwards. Data from 27,320 surgeries over a 10-year period were used and on average the patients had a BMI of 48 before the operation and got down to 33 by the end of the first year. Around 36% of patients achieved a BMI of under 30 with less than 9% of those that went into surgery with a BMI of above 50 getting down to 30 or below.
In the USA, the National Institute of Health uses a BMI of 40 as the threshold for bariatric surgery, alternatively it is 35 for those patients that are also suffering from obesity related health conditions. It is also an issue in the USA that insurers often require that patients undergo medically supervised weight-loss programs for at least a year before their surgery will be covered. This data may help to show that with an earlier surgical intervention, further health problems in the obese may be avoided. The authors of this study are hoping that their results will help inform referrals for surgery as well as insurance company requirements.