Life expectancy increases in patients with obesity who undergo bariatric surgery

Despite high mortality rates among people with obesity, those who undergo bariatric surgery are likelier to live years longer, a new study by the University of Gothenburg finds.

For the new study, as published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers focused on the data of over 2,000 adult patients who underwent bariatric surgery, comparing them to a control group of nearly the same number of participants, but with nonsurgical intervention.

“We used the Gompertz proportional hazards regression model to compare mortality and life expectancy among patients treated with either bariatric surgery (surgery group) or usual obesity care (control group) in the prospective, controlled Swedish Obese Subjects study and participants in the Swedish Obese Subjects reference study (reference cohort), a random sample from the general population,” the co-authors stated in their findings.

The patients who underwent surgery were estimated to have increased their life expectancy by as much as years, the findings showed.

“Now, for the first time, we’ve got a measure of how much bariatric surgery prolongs life expectancy for the average patient. But it’s important to point out that it’s a matter of averages. Not all patients are the same, so you can’t draw the conclusion that everyone who gets the operation done lives three years longer,” said Lena Carlsson Ekander, the study’s lead author, in a news release.

“Our study shows that bariatric surgery prolongs it by three years. But even after surgery, patients still have a shorter life expectancy than the general population. That’s why it’s very important for bariatric patients to be offered adequate postoperative monitoring and follow-up.”

Image courtesy of Molly Cranna
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