ANOTHER SHORT TERM STUDY ON BARIATRIC SURGERY
Numerous short term studies report to show the benefit of one procedure over others, and usually the more invasive procedure demonstrates higher “success”. This reflects the fact that the less invasive LAP-BAND procedure is shown to have a much slower weight loss curve, typically approaching or equaling the overall weight loss of gastric bypass surgery after thirty-six to forty-eight months. Another recent study falls along these lines.
From my alma mater, UCSF, comes a new study examining the results of gastric bypass when compared to LAP-BAND surgery in 200 morbidly obese patients. Complications rates were similar, but the weight loss results were better for gastric bypass and re-operation rates were lower for gastric bypass. However the follow-up was only for one year. It was already previously known that the LAP-BAND procedure will take three to five years to reach the approximate level of weight loss usually seen within twelve to eighteen months after gastric bypass surgery.
So do these short term studies contribute anything further to the current knowledge base? Probably not. What we already know is that minimally invasive weight loss surgery, when performed in the hands of highly experienced surgeons, has very low risk and complication rates. Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery is highly effective and has low complication rates in the hands of such high volume surgeons. That the weight loss results are greater at the end of one year when compared to LAP-BAND is not new information.
Yet short term weight loss success is not to be discounted as an import achievement either. For many of my patients, achieving a one-year weight loss target is critical to avoiding an irreversible slide to poorer health or even death. For some people the difference between 18 and 36 months to reach a goal weight is highly significant, and in others it is not as important.