While nearly two-thirds of participants said their joint pain and general health interfered with their ability to function before surgery, that dropped to 43% after seven years.
“I was influenced by the robustness of the initial preoperative improvements in terms of pain, function and work productivity,” King said, adding that the decreases between three and seven years were small, particularly given the participants’ age.
Overall, the findings add to the conviction that “the benefits of modern bariatric surgeries — that is, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy — far outweigh the risks,” King said.
Luna Sandon, MD, program director in the School of Health Professions at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, reviewed the results.
She said the additional benefits highlighted in the study are well known to clinicians, who usually refer them to potential patients, even when patients’ primary motivation for surgery is weight loss rather than pain relief.
“Insurance does not approve of surgery on the basis of a measure of pain or mobility, as they are not considered medical diagnoses,” Sandon said, while obesity is.
“Insurance is also not very good at paying for prevention. So weight is the primary focus,” she said, causing patients to view any additional benefits of surgery as a “bonus” if and when they tried it.
“It’s good to see a long-term study showing that these benefits persist over time,” Sandon said. “Feeling better physically with less pain and more mobility can do a lot to improve mood and quality of life.”
The results were published on September 14 in JAMA Network is open .
The American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery has more about the benefits of weight loss surgery.
SOURCES: Wendy King, Ph.D., associate professor, epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health; Luna Sandon, PhD, RDN, LD, program director and associate professor, clinical nutrition, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; JAMA Network is openSeptember 14, 2022