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Bariatric surgery can lead to improvements in health, says study

A new study says patients who underwent bariatric surgery claim improvement in health and in the quality of their lives.
December 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
The popularity of various weight-loss surgery procedures have sky-rocketed, but do they work long term? And does bariatric surgery really improve your health? Researchers wanted to find out.

Three years after gastric bypass surgery, Lisa Streb feels like she's starting out with a clean slate.

It's just been a completely new life for me and I just embraced it and just enjoy every day of it now," said Streb.

Like many bariatric surgery patients, she dropped a lot of weight during her first year. But does the weight come back?

After three years, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center researchers checked in with 2,400 people who had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass or adjustable lap banding.

"There was substantial weight change following both bariatric procedures at three years after surgeries and we also saw improvements in diabetes, lipids and blood pressure at the three-year time point as well," said Anita Courcoulas, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

A report provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association found - three years later - those who had the Roux-en-Y procedure lost on average 31 percent of their initial weight. More than 60 percent saw improvement in their diabetes.

Those who had the gastric banding procedure lost about 16 percent of their initial weight and 29 percent saw improvement in their diabetes. Cholesterol levels and blood pressure improved in almost all the participants.

"That allows us an opportunity to begin to investigate what we can do to better select our patients for surgery, better educate our patients prior to surgery so that they can achieve optimal weight and health results following surgery," said Courcoulas.

Streb says she wishes she had undergone the procedure earlier.

"I'm sorry I didn't do it sooner, I'm sorry I didn't do it when I was younger and had more fun with this new life," said Streb. "The rest of my life is in front of me and there's nothing to stop me at this point."

While gastric banding showed some positive results, study authors say they were less than what has been shown in prior studies.