Surgery of any kind – from the simplest of appendectomies to the most complicated of transplants – is never risk-free. Among the types of surgeries that is being associated with high fatality rates is weight-loss surgery, a belief that became the basis of a study, the results of which were published this week on the New England Journal of Medicine.
Among the researchers is Dr. Bruce Wolfe, a professor of surgery at the Oregon Health and Science University. For this study, Dr. Wolfe and his colleagues observed more than 4,700 patients in the first month following a bariatric procedure. Their general conclusion is that weight-loss surgery is not as dangerous as some people think it is, but not for everyone; there are some risk factors that may contribute to the appearance of problems after surgery.
This is certainly good news, considering the fact that due to an increase in the number of obese people who turn to procedures such as bariatric surgery to lose unwanted and unhealthy weight, more people are also worrying about the risks that such procedures may bring. The number of people undergoing weight loss surgery has reportedly increased tenfold since 1994.
Among the patients who were studied by Dr. Wolfe and his colleagues, 4.3% developed serious problems after surgery, including blood clots and the necessity of having to undergo another surgery. 0.3%, or 15 patients, died within the month following the surgery; this is not exactly a surprising fact, as this statistic holds true for other types of surgery as well.
There were four factors that stood out as having a tendency to increase the risk for developing complications after weight loss surgery: sleep apnea, severe obesity, a history of blood clots, and the inability to walk at least 200 feet before undergoing surgery.
That being said, weight-loss surgery is generally considered a safe procedure to undergo, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that it can potentially mean survival for those who are very obese. Obesity is a condition that may result in the development of other diseases such as heart ailments and type 2 diabetes.