This study found that despite significant changes in insurance coverage of weight loss surgery since 2007, the demographics of patients who have these operations haven’t changed. The study’s researchers also found throughout their study period that patient safety outcomes remained unchanged since 2007 with 2% of patients having complications and just .1% deaths occurring. The study is being depicted as an average of these types of cases because the statistics have not changed in several years.
The study looked at U.S. Centers of Excellence by ethnicity, procedure, age, rate of complications and outcomes. The study’s researchers found minor changes from 2007 to 2011. The study was presented by Dr. Sudan on behalf of the entire research committee and the Executive Council of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Obesity Weekly 2013.
The study found no increases in the number of males, individuals with diabetes or minorities who had bariatric surgery. Of the 364,000 or more patients evaluated during the study, only 1.75% had a severe adverse event during the first 30 days of their post-op period, and only 2.02% had a severe adverse event within a year. The serious one-year rate stayed close to the same average throughout the entire six-year period studied, 2.18% in 2009 and 1.66% in 2011.
Because the data is not risk-adjusted, it is nearly impossible to compare death or complication rates across the different weight loss surgery procedures. The study’s researchers did, however, find that patients who had a higher body mass index, more comorbidities or more excess body weight tended to have the more extensive reconstructive type of procedures such as biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch or gastric bypass surgery.
The study’s researchers believed that these complication and mortality rates could be used for benchmarks. The one-year mortality rate for gastric bypass was .26%, .11% for gastric sleeve surgery, .84% for biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch and .05% for gastric banding.
The study did find a trend of more Hispanics and blacks having bariatric surgery; the percentage of black patients rose from 10.11% in 2007 to 13.43% in 2011, and Hispanic patients rose from 5.84% to 8.44%. Dr. Sudan reports that the increase in these minority patients is still much less than would be expected in comparison to the prevalence of obesity in that population.
While this data doesn’t reflect a significant impact, it does create a benchmark for doctors to use regarding death and mortality risks to discuss with patients before they commit to having bariatric surgery.