Researchers at Montefiore Medical Center in New York reported that bariatric surgery is a safe and effective procedure in obese patients above 60 years of age. The study was published in the journal Obesity Surgery and is entitled “Outcomes of Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass in Patients Older than 60.”
The proportion of the population above 60 years of age is rapidly increasing in both the United States and Europe. The aging process is known to be associated with an overall, gradual decline in health conditions, reflected by the fact that most of the individuals in the older population suffer from several comorbid conditions. One of these conditions is obesity and the number of morbidly obese older individuals is rising at a concerning rate.
Currently, surgical intervention is considered the most promising option for obesity treatment across all age groups, including individuals above 60 years. Bariatric surgical intervention is a weight loss surgery where the size of the stomach is reduced through a gastric band or through removal of part of the stomach. It has been shown that this surgery is highly effective in inducing long-term sustained weight loss and to contribute to health improvements. However, there is a lack of information concerning surgical interventions in an older population.
Researchers have now assessed the safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery in patients older than 60 years of age. The team conducted a retrospective review on data from 83 patients older than 60 (average age of 63.4 years; average weight of 122.3 kg) who underwent bariatric surgery between January 2009 and October 2013. In total, 30 patients had undergone laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG), and 53 laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB). Special attention was paid to the patient’s weight loss, rate of surgery-related complications and the surgery effects on comorbid conditions. The effectiveness of bariatric surgery in this specific population was compared to the one in the general population.
Researchers found that before surgery, the more common comorbid conditions were hypertension (90.4% of the patients), diabetes mellitus (63.9%), hyperlipidemia (high lipid values; 50.6 %), obstructive sleep apnea (34.9 %) and asthma (30.1%). After surgery, a significant part of the patients reported improvement or even resolution of their comorbid conditions. Patients lost an average of 65.2% of excess weight at 12 months post-surgery; a percentage that did not differ from the one found in the general population. In terms of complications due to surgery, there was also no statistically significant difference between the number of complications observed in patients older than 60 and the general population. The results indicate that bariatric surgery is an effective procedure promoting a similar weigh loss in the general population and patients above 60 years.
The research team concluded that bariatric surgery can be considered a safe and effective treatment option for obese patients older than 60 years, as it results in a significant weight loss and improvement in comorbidities. The team suggests that further studies should address the long-term effects of bariatric surgery in this patient population.