While most people who undergo a type of weight-loss surgery say their well-being has improved, high rates of side effects and hospitalization are also reported, a new study finds.
Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach to a small pouch. This pouch is then attached directly to the small intestine, which affects how the digestive tract absorbs food, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Surveys completed by more than 1,400 people in Denmark who underwent Roux-en-Y surgery between 2006 and 2011 showed that only 7 percent reported reduced well-being after their procedure.
But 89 percent of patients reported one or more side effects such as abdominal pain and fatigue almost five years after surgery, and 29 percent of patients were hospitalized, the study found.
Sixty-eight percent of the patients sought health care due to their symptoms. The most common reasons for seeking health care were abdominal pain (34 percent), fatigue (34 percent), anemia (28 percent) and gallstones (16 percent), the study authors said.
Patients most likely to have symptoms after surgery were women, smokers, those younger than 35, those who were unemployed and those with symptoms before surgery. The more symptoms patients had, the lower their quality of life.
The study was published online Jan. 6 in the journal JAMA Surgery.
“Focus on the [quality of life] among patients with many symptoms may be required since such patients are at risk of depression. Development of new weight-loss treatments with less risk of subsequent symptoms should be a high priority,” study leader Dr. Sigrid Bjerge Gribsholt, from Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues wrote.
But one U.S. expert noted there were some caveats to the finding.
The patients were not compared against a control group, said Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Roslin also said that newer types of weight-loss surgery are being used more often, and these are “procedures that will provide better long-term results” than Roux-en-Y.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about weight-loss surgery.
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