Posted - January 12, 2010

Bariatric Surgery for Older Patients

In the past, there has been concern that bariatric surgery is too dangerous for obese patients over the age of 65; however, a recent comparison study has shown that the risk of bariatric surgery is actually comparable between older and younger patients.

Dr. Christopher M. Willkomm of Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas reviewed the records of all patients who had undergone laparoscopic gastric bypass at Baylor from 2005 to 2008. Of the 1,474 patients who underwent the weight loss surgery, 100 were 65 or older. The mean age of the older patients was 68.

The review looked at operative time, length of hospital stay, 30-day re-admission rates, and post-operative complications. The average operative time for the older patients was only 15 minutes longer, with a total time of 70 minutes, versus 65 minutes in the younger patients. Older weight loss surgery patients required an average length of stay of 1.97 days, where their younger counterparts stayed an average of 1.3 days. The older patients had a slightly lower readmission rate of only 6 percent, compared to 7.4 percent for patients under 65. There were no fatalities in the older patient group during the first 30 days.

Researchers concluded that bariatric surgery is a safe option for obese patients over the age of 65.