Post-surgical decrease in weight-associated diseases and other benefits are life-altering for the majority of patients 

September 18, 2006 

WORCESTER, Mass.-Younger, male individuals with a lower pre-surgery weight experience greater levels of weight loss than their older, female counterparts. So say experts at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who analyzed the post-surgical weight loss of nearly 500 hundred individuals who underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery - the current "gold standard" operation for treating obesity in the nation - in an effort to understand those pre-surgery factors that may predict weight loss. 

Although research has indicated that weight loss after bariatric surgery varies and depends on many factors, such as time elapsed since surgery, baseline weight and various weight-associated diseases, in "Predictors of Weight Status Following Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass," published in the September issue of Obesity Surgery, Yunsheng Ma, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine, and John J. Kelly, MD, associate professor of surgery, and colleagues, found that age, gender, baseline weight, and diabetes are effective predictors of percentage of excess weight loss after gastric bypass. Surprisingly, depression did not predict weight loss. 

Of the patients studied, all were morbidly obese and met the National Institutes of Health guidelines for obesity surgery. Many experienced a number of obesity-related illnesses: 24 percent were diabetic; 42 percent had elevated blood pressure, 15 percent had high cholesterol levels and 13 percent had sleep apnea. The researchers found that patients with diabetes had a lower percent weight loss than those patients who did not have diabetes. However, the substantial health benefits many of these patients reaped from surgery surpass the somewhat reduced weight loss. 

Overall, the findings support bariatric surgery as an important treatment option with the tremendous potential for substantial and long term weight loss while improving or resolving obesity-related conditions. Patients in the program, which is housed at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, were extremely successful, experiencing an 85 percent success rate - defined as the loss of more than 50 percent of excess weight - one year after surgery. On average, patients lost 115 pounds during this period. In-hospital mortality and length of hospital stay were also close to the national data.     

"The success of these patients in achieving such significant weight loss supports the assertion that bariatric surgery is one of the most effective means of treating diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea and high cholesterol in morbidly obese patients," said Dr. Ma.   "Our data also demonstrated a successful bariatric program in a mid-size, suburban, academic medical center, where surgery may be more accessible and affordable for qualified morbidly obese patients."
"Achieving this degree of weight loss is as much dependent on a motivated and educated patient and a well-trained, cohesive and multidisciplinary care team as it is on a successful surgery," said Dr. Kelly. "We are fortunate to have all of these components in place at the UMass Memorial Weight Center."

# # # 

The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research.  The Medical School attracts more than $174 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. UMMS is the academic partner of UMass Memorial Health Care, the largest health care provider in Central Massachusetts. For more information visit . 

UMass Memorial Health Care is Central Massachusetts' largest not-for-profit health care delivery system, with 1,500 physicians and over 12,000 employees.  Its comprehensive network of care includes teaching hospitals, affiliated community hospitals, freestanding primary care practices, ambulatory outpatient clinics, long-term care facility, home health agencies, hospice programs, a rehabilitation group and mental health services.  UMass Memorial Medical Center comprises the University, Memorial, and Hahnemann campuses. For additional information, visit . UMass Memorial Health Care is the clinical partner of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, .

Contact: Kelly Bishop