Weight-loss surgery has been working to combat obesity for years now. But how long does it keep the weight off?
A recent study looked at a group of patients who had undergone laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (lap-band) surgery for obesity 10 or more years ago. Researchers found that the loss of excess weight peaked at two years and then remained steady for up to 13 years or more.
Paul E. O’Brien, MD, from the Centre for Obesity Research and Education at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, worked with a team to investigate the long-term outcomes of weight-loss surgery.
Lap-band surgery is a common surgical procedure to treat obesity. The procedure involves placing a small device around the top of the stomach opening to limit the amount of food a person can eat in one sitting.
For the study, a lap-band surgery database was searched for weight changes from 1994 to 2011. Researchers found 714 lap-band surgery patients who had participated in post-surgical follow-ups for at least 10 years. The participants had an average age of 47 and an average body mass index (BMI) of 43.8.
BMI is calculated by kilograms of weight divided by a person’s height in meters squared. A BMI over 30.0 is considered obese.
The patients had a 47 percent reduction in excess weight 10 years or more after surgery. A total of 54 patients participated in 15 years of post-surgery follow-up, which also showed a 47 percent reduction in excess weight.
The authors concluded, “This weight loss occurred regardless of whether any revisional procedures were needed."
They also noted, "After reaching a peak weight loss at 2 years, there is a high degree of stability of the weight loss status through the next 13 years…”
The authors recommended lap-band surgery as a safe and effective treatment for obesity with sustainable weight loss for at least 15 years after surgery regardless of adjustments.
Lap-band surgery should not be considered a temporary solution to obesity, but rather a long-term investment that may require mechanical adjustments over time.
This study was published in January in the Annals of Surgery.
Allergan Inc., the makers of the lap-band surgical device, provided funding for this research. No conflicts of interest were declared.