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August 04, 2006

Warnings for Weight Loss Surgery Patients

Gastric_bypass_warning_1 A study recently released by the Duke University Medical Center indicates five characteristics of patients most at risk for developing fatal complications from gastric bypass weight loss surgery.

The study revealed that patients' risk factors increase if they: have a body mass index (BMI), of 50 or higher (more than double the normal range); are male; currently or previously suffered from hypertension; have had or are at risk for developing pulmonary embolus, or blood clots in the lung; and are over 45 years of age.

The study followed 2,075 bariatric surgery patients treated at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond between 1995 and 2004. Of the 31 who died within 90 days of surgery, three were classified as low risk; 19 were medium risk; and nine were high risk.

One of the causes of the discrepancy is the different distribution of fat between the genders. Women take on a gynecoid, or pear shape, as they gain weight. Men, on the other hand, develop a central, or apple-shaped, distribution of fat that is typically deposited around the upper trunk area - precisely the area in which the surgery is performed.

Morbidly obese men who also have a history of cardio pulmonary conditions such as sleep apnea, hypertension, and pulmonary embolism have to be well educated about the risks and benefits of the procedure, and how these conditions may predispose them to increased complications

Your doctor should evaluate patients individually and require high-risk patients to lose a specified amount of weight prior to their bariatric procedure. An alternative - and less invasive - procedure for high-risk patients is adjustable gastric banding. While weight loss is slower following this operation, long-term results may be comparable.

Bariatric surgery is a tool, not a cure!


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