Now, two new studies from researchers at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York City and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have shown that there are other benefits for obese patients who undergo weight-loss surgery.
In the first study, presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, obese patients who went through weight loss surgery were shown to have better joint replacement outcomes. Led by Dr. Emily Dodwell and her colleagues, the researchers recruited obese patients who required a hip or knee replacement. The patients were divided into two groups, one of which underwent weight loss surgery, while the other group did not.
Upon analyzing the cohorts, Dr. Dodwell found those who received weight loss surgery prior to their joint replacements did better than those who did not. And using a mathematical model to “stimulate the outcomes and costs of each treatment path,” she determined that weight loss surgery prior to joint replacement is “likely a cost-effective option from a public payer standpoint in order to improve outcomes in obese patients.” Subsequently, she advocates that health care systems that do not currently include weight loss surgery as a “covered benefit,” should do so in order to improve patients’ outcomes.
Though study co-author Dr. Alexander McLawhorn notes that sometimes obese patients with severe joint pain cannot delay a replacement procedure, he adds, “Ideally, a team approach would be used to treat morbidly obese patients in which various health care professionals are in place to help a patient lose weight…”
In the second study from Massachusetts General Hospital, researchers found that obese patients with asthma who had weight-loss surgery showed a significant reduction in “serious asthma flare-ups.” Though the authors did not provide specific information on the patients’ weights before and after surgery, study lead author Dr. Kohei Hasegawa and her colleagues write, “Asthma exacerbation decreased by half after bariatric surgery and remaining significantly lower for at least 2 years.”
Though the study authors did not find that weight loss surgery directly causes a reduction in asthma symptoms (they only found an association), obesity is known to cause inflammation from excess fat cells and asthma is also linked to inflammation. Still, more research must be done to determine a causal pathway if it exists. Regardless, it is clear that obesity affects many health variables and if a person is experiencing difficulty losing weight, it’s best to speak with a doctor sooner rather than later.
(Photo courtesy of spablab)