Death After Weight Loss Surgery

MakenzieR on 28 Oct 2011 at 1:30pm

1 in 50 weight loss patients die within a month of surgery -- that's what one RealSelf member thought to be true when they approached our doctor community.  Another member thought that weight loss patients typically die 10-15 years after surgery.  With all the attention the media gives cases like this when they do occur, it's no suprise people will believe it to be commonplace. 

When someone dies from an elective surgery, the media goes wild.  Sometimes it's good, because it highlights the fact that there are risks with an elective surgery and it's best to arm yourself with information before going under the knife. 

But doctors want the world to know that these feared death rates are not factual.

“Bariatric surgery is not a detriment to your health whereas obesity is,” states Long Island bariatric surgeon Dr. David Buchin.

gastric bypass before and afterDr. Buchin points to a Swedish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine a few years back:

  • 5,000 patients followed for 10.9 years with a 99.9% follow up rate
  • ½ had weight loss surgery -- ½ had conventional therapies like diet, exercise, etc.
  • Results “showed that the patients who had bariatric surgery had a 29% decrease in their death rate over that ten year period.”

Dr. Lloyd Stegemann, a Corpus Christi bariatric surgeon, also points out that the risk of dying within 30 days of weight loss surgery is about .02 - .05%.  This is a national average, so other factors must be considered, like the health of a patient before surgery (previous heart attacks, stroke, etc).

There are many things to contemplate before opting for weight loss surgery.  But if the hyped “death rate” is the only thing holding you back, consider Dr. Shawn Garber’s words: “The risks of staying morbidly obese and dying is much greater than the risk of dying from gastric bypass surgery.”

Click here to see if the RealSelf community thinks weight loss surgery is Worth It. 
Photo credit: AdamPengel on stock.xchng