Weight loss surgery has long-term benefits for pain and mobility

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While nearly two-thirds of participants said joint pain and their general health had affected their ability to do their jobs before surgery, this proportion dropped to 43% seven years later.

“I was impressed with the durability of the initial improvements in pain, function, and worker productivity before and after surgery,” said King, who added that the declines between three and seven years were small, especially considering that participants are aging .

Overall, the results contribute to the belief that “the benefits of modern bariatric surgical procedures — that is, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and gastric sleeve removal — far outweigh the risks,” King said.

Lona Sandon, program director at the School of Health Professions at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, reviewed the findings.

She said the additional benefits highlighted in the study are well known to physicians, who usually point them out to potential patients, even when patients’ primary motivation for surgery is weight loss rather than pain relief.

“Insurance doesn’t authorize surgery based on pain scales or movement capacity because those aren’t considered medical diagnoses,” while obesity is one, Sandon said.

“Insurance companies are also not good at paying for prevention. So weight is a priority,” she said, leaving patients to consider any added benefits of surgery as a “bonus” if and when they experience them.

“It’s nice to see that a long-term study shows these benefits last over time,” Sandon said. “Feeling better about your body with less pain and greater mobility can do a lot to improve mood and quality of life.”

The results were published on September 14th JAMA network open .


More information

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery has more on the benefits of weight loss surgery.

SOURCES: Wendy King, PhD, Associate Professor, Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health; Lona Sandon, PhD, RDN, LD, Program Director and Associate Professor, Clinical Nutrition, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; JAMA network openSeptember 14, 2022





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