July 9, 2011

Weight-Loss Surgery May Have Fewer Risks for Older Patients


It seems that age is not a determinant for post-operative complications following weight-loss surgery, a new study suggests. Additionally, older patients can be subjected for weight-loss surgeries without adverse reactions that are worse than younger patients.

Dr. Robert B. Dorman, a general surgery resident at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, presented the findings during the Digestive Diseases Week in Chicago. He explained that assessing the risk among elderly patients will be a crucial issue as the generation of Baby Boomers is still aging. According to him, surgeons specializing in bariatric operations should perform such procedures on elderly obese patients with extreme caution. No weight-loss surgeries can push through without accurate assessment of individual risks.

In truth, there are arguments about the indication of weight-loss surgery to older obese patients. Dr. Stephen Carryl, the director of bariatric surgery at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, said that the National Institutes of Health determined age 65 as the cut-off age for bariatric surgery. Since then, this has become the standard in bariatric surgeries. As an added benefit for senior patents, Medicare also provides payment for weight-loss surgery.

The researchers also discovered from their data that 4 percent of the 50,000 patients who underwent weight-loss surgery are actually over 65 years of age. Over the years, there was an increase in the number of seniors who consented to weight-loss operations. A trend was also spotted towards the death of patients who were over 65 years of age, but the researchers emphasized that this was insignificant. Nevertheless, most elderly patients were able to withstand the stress of undergoing a major weight-loss surgery.

Even with the fewer risks, the only noted setback of undergoing bariatric surgery during old age is the length of hospital stay, when strict monitoring of the physiologic status of an elderly patient is performed.

About Anna

Anna is a contributing freelance writer for HealthWise Journal. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing and currently pursuing my Master's Degree in Maternal and Child Health Nursing.

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