If you are a smoker who is obese or overweight, you may want to consider quitting smoking before undergoing any type of bariatric surgery. A new study of adults who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery, or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, showed that smokers were at a higher risk for complications, including the development of strictures, ulcers, and fistulae.
In the study, 18.4% of the smokers who had bariatric surgery had complications such as marginal ulcerations, strictures, and gastrogastric fistulae. Only 5.6% of the non-smokers who had bariatric surgery reported any complications. The study is the first to look this thoroughly at the impact of smoking on surgical outcomes, but further information is still needed, since the risk of complication may also be affected by the type of surgery more than whether or not the patient is a smoker.
The researchers encourage bariatric surgeons to offer counseling and access to programs to quit smoking before they will perform a procedure on a patient, perhaps even making it mandatory for a patient to quit smoking first. Because many people associate smoking with appetite suppression, it can be difficult to quit smoking when obese or overweight. Many adults are concerned that if they quit smoking, they will begin to gain weight again. Counseling and support from a bariatric surgeon before performing the procedure could make significant strides towards alleviating those concerns with the benefit of also reducing the risk of complications even further.