SEATTLE, March 13, 2020—People with severe obesity who had bariatric surgery maintained significantly more weight loss at 5 years than did those who did not have surgery. This is according to a large Kaiser Permanente study published March 13 in the Annals of Surgery: Weight Outcomes of Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass Compared to Non-Surgical Treatment. Although some weight regain was common after surgery, regain to within 5% of baseline was rare, especially in patients who had gastric bypass instead of sleeve gastrectomy.
“Earlier research has shown that bariatric surgery is the most effective weight-loss treatment for patients with severe obesity,” said first author David Arterburn, MD, MPH, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) and internal medicine physician at Washington Permanente Medical Group.
“Our new results could help ease concerns about long-term weight regain,” he added. “Along with safety worries and gaps in insurance coverage, such concerns have contributed to a low rate of bariatric surgery. Only about 1 in 100 eligible patients choose to have these procedures each year.”
At 5 years after gastric bypass:
At 5 years after sleeve gastrectomy:
At 10 years:
This weight-maintenance information is important because sleeve gastrectomy, which is simpler to perform than gastric bypass, now accounts for more than 2 in 3 bariatric surgery procedures. But earlier research from the same team showed that over 5 years follow-up, sleeve gastrectomy was associated with fewer re-operations and interventions to address problems or complications than was gastric bypass.
“It’s important to monitor patients closely for early signs of weight regain—and to intervene early with a detailed nutritional and medical evaluation to look for behavioral and surgical explanations for weight regain,” Dr. Arterburn said. People in the study who stopped losing weight early—within the first year, not the second—tended to have a greater risk of weight regain by 5 years.
This is one of a few large, long-term studies comparing the weight outcomes of bariatric procedures to non-surgical treatment:
The study demonstrates the value of real-world evidence, because prior randomized trials did not find differences in weight loss between the two types of bariatric surgery. Differences between this and prior studies might be attributable to the characteristics of patients and surgeons involved in the studies.
Previously, the same research team showed that bariatric surgery was associated with half the risk of microvascular complications (nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy) and of heart attacks and strokes compared to patients with type 2 diabetes and severe obesity undergoing usual medical care.
“Providers should engage all patients with severe obesity, especially those who also have type 2 diabetes, in a shared-decision-making conversation to discuss the benefits and risks of different bariatric procedures,” Dr. Arterburn said. “And more 10-year follow-up studies of bariatric surgery, particularly sleeve gastrectomy, are needed.”
Dr. Arterburn’s coauthors were Sebastien Haneuse, PhD, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Anita P. Courcoulas, MD, MPH, of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA; Karen J. Coleman, PhD, of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena; Lisa J. Herrinton, PhD, David Fisher, MD, Robert A. Li, MD, and Liyan Liu, MS, of Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland; and Eric A. Johnson, MS, Mary Kay Theis, MS, and James R. Fraser of KPWHRI, Seattle.
The research was funded under a grant from National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (R01 DK105960).
A research brief sums up Kaiser Permanente research on obesity.
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Senior Collaborative Biostatistician
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
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