Posted - August 26, 2010

New Research Sheds Light on Weight Loss Surgery Complications

New research suggests that the risk of complications from weight loss surgery is lower among bariatric surgeons who perform more operations.

Researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor analyzed data from 15,275 bariatric patients who had weight loss surgery between 2006 and 2009 in Michigan. The study included data from three common procedures performed by 62 bariatric surgeons at 25 different hospitals across Michigan.

Researchers found that 3.6% of gastric bypass, 2.2% of sleeve gastrectomies and 0.9% of laparoscopic gastric band surgeries resulted in serious complications. The most common complication was infection, which occurred among 4.4% of gastric bypass patients.

People considering weight loss surgery may be interested to know that bariatric surgeons and hospitals with the most procedure volume had the lowest rate of complications. “Risk of serious complications was inversely associated with average annual bariatric procedure volume,” the researchers noted, adding that, “Serious complication rates were about twice as high (4 percent) for low-volume surgeons at low-volume hospitals than for high-volume surgeons at high-volume hospitals (1.9 percent).”

Obese people investigating weight loss surgery and bariatric surgeons are often advised to ask potential surgeons about how many procedures they have performed as well as inquire about their individual complication rates. Other bariatric surgeons who reviewed the research data agreed that frequency and repetition often improve weight loss surgery results.