#OBSM June 9, 2019: Is Bariatric Surgery Safe and Effective for Older Patients?
By Walt Medlin, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Four out of 10 Americans over the age of 65 have obesity (Body Mass Index
>30). Those over 65 with obesity have the most obesity-related health risks and lower quality of life than those younger than 65. Multiple research studies including thousands of patients in many different countries have shown that Weight Loss Surgery is safe and effective in patients over 65, and even in patients over age 75. Check out the studies here
for more details.
Only 10% of all bariatric operations are performed for patients over age 65. This is better than a decade ago, but still counts as very little being done compared to the possible number of older people who could benefit. Many of the most serious medical problems that older people face are exactly the problems that are most improved with weight loss surgery – namely diabetes, heart disease, stroke risk, arthritis, limited ability to walk and move, urine leakage, sleep quality issues, headache, and many others.
In this month’s #obsm chat, we will be discussing the role of bariatric surgery for older adults.
- Are some older patients more likely to benefit from bariatric surgery than others? If so, who is most likely to benefit?
- What are the barriers for older adults seeking bariatric surgery?
- Messages linger in the public opinion. Older patients were actively rejected from care until very recently. How can we correct and update the public about safety and effectiveness of bariatric surgery now?
- Any weight loss effort or obesity treatment involves changes in lifestyle. Could this be a potential pitfall (real or imagined) in older patients who have more years of established patterns of behavior? How can patients and HCP's mitigate this?
- How can we empower older patients who may feel that they have “failed” with conventional nonsurgical approaches?
- Technology like apps and social media is growing in use with support and care. Would older patients benefit from special resources to help them use these tools?