Could Gastric Bypass Surgery Add Years to Your Life?

Life Expectancy after Bypass Surgery

A graphic illustrating gastric bypass surgery.
A graphic illustrating gastric bypass surgery. PIXOLOGICSTUDIO/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

Did you know that gastric bypass surgery can add years to your life? If you've considered gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, here's what you should know about life expectancy after bypass surgery.

Gastric Bypass Benefits: The Research

For those who are obese, gastric bypass can reduce the risk of death by 40 percent over a seven-year period, according to a 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study examined the medical records of almost 10,000 gastric bypass patients and compared them to data from almost 10,000 severely obese persons.

Researchers matched individuals in each group based on age, sex and BMI to ensure that these other factors didn't play into the results. They then looked up each individual in the National Death Index to learn about any deaths that occurred over a seven-year period.

They found that people who underwent gastric bypass surgery had a 40 percent reduction in the rate of death compared to their obese counterparts. More specifically, they had a 56 percent reduction in death from coronary artery disease, a 92 percent reduction in death from diabetes and a 60 percent reduction in death from cancer.

Benefits of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Another study followed people who had bariatric surgery, the class of surgery of which gastric bypass is the most common — and people who had not undergone bariatric surgery — an average of 10.9 years.

The researchers found that people who did not undergo bariatric bypass surgery had less than a 2 percent change in body weight over the follow-up period. The bariatric surgery group, on the other hand, reported large changes in body weight:

  • Gastric bypass patients lost an average of 32 percent of their pre-surgery weight and had maintained a reduction of 25 percent after 10 years.
  • Vertical-banded gastroplasty patients lost an average of 25 percent of their pre-surgery weight and had maintained a reduction of 16 percent after 10 years.
  • Lap band patients lost an average of 20 percent of their pre-surgery weight and had maintained a reduction of 14 percent after 10 years.

The people in the surgery group were 24 percent less likely to die over a ten-year period. In addition, studies have shown that a weight loss of 12 percent can reduce diabetes risk.

The Bottom Line

Obesity is linked to dramatic increases in the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Losing weight can dramatically reduce those risks, as research about the benefits of gastric bypass surgery emphasizes.

If you have not been able to lose weight through lifestyle modifications, gastric bypass surgery may be right for you. Once weight is reduced, controlling blood sugar, high blood pressure and other health conditions becomes much easier. Talk to your doctor about your options.

Sources:

Adams TD, et al. Long-Term Mortality after Gastric Bypass Surgery. New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 357:753-761. August 23, 2007, Number 8.

Bray GA. The Missing Link – Lose Weight, Live Longer. Vol. 357:818-820. August 23, 2007, Number 8.

Sjostrom L, et al. Effects of Bariatric Surgery on Mortality in Swedish Obese Subjects. Vol. 357:741-752. August 23, 2007, Number 8.

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