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New Gastric Bypass Research: Why Timing Matters

Written By: Emma Squillace

Those who have been researching weight loss surgery are probably somewhat familiar with an operation called the “roux-en-y gastric bypass.” Most people call it the ‘gastric bypass,’ and it is one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Not only is this procedure an excellent tool for substantial weight loss, but it has the ability to help many people with type 2 diabetes, to a level that is even still surprising researchers. A new study adds even more evidence to the power of the gastric bypass bariatric surgery. What’s particularly interesting about this study is that it emphasizes the importance of having bariatric surgery sooner rather than later – something we emphasize to patients who are worried that they should wait even longer before considering surgery.

The new research

A study followed two groups of people – one made up of adults, and one made up of 18/19 year olds (the “teen” group). All participants had a gastric bypass operation and were followed for 5 years. There were similarities between the groups. For instance, both groups lost between 25 – 30% of their overall body weight. In a person who weighs 300 pounds, this equates to an impressive 75 – 90-pound weight loss. Both groups also saw substantial decreases in how many people needed to use diabetes or blood pressure medication after 5 years. However, what was also interesting was the differences between the groups. While 2/3rds of the adults who had been on diabetes medication were off it 5 years later, ALL of the teen group had been able to stop their medication. Both groups showed great improvements, but we see that those who had surgery when they were younger, saw the best results in terms of type 2 diabetes and blood pressure improvements.

What the results tell us

Both the 18 – 19-year-olds and older adults saw substantial weight loss and health improvements from the gastric bypass. However, the younger group had even more success with being able to control their diabetes and blood pressure without medication. This indicates that someone who can have bariatric surgery at a younger age may see even better results than someone who struggles with obesity for 20 years before making the choice to have this treatment. While someone in their 20s may think they should try dieting for years more before they consider surgery, evidence like this study suggests otherwise.

Why the gastric bypass works

Some of the weight loss success that comes with gastric bypass surgery is related to the decrease in stomach size. With a smaller stomach, patients generally feel full after eating a smaller meal, and tend to stay full for longer. But there is much more to the success of this operation. Scientist believe that some of the great success of the gastric bypass is tied to hormonal changes that happen because of surgical changes in the digestive tract. It cannot be only the weight loss that accounts for the overall success in treating type 2 diabetes with this surgery, because we have patients who are so improved that they can reduce or stop their insulin – within days of their surgery! This success is long before substantial weight loss has taken place.

The ASMBS (American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery) says that gastric bypass patients generally lose 60 – 80% of their excess weight, on average. We strongly encourage you to schedule a consultation as soon as possible if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery. As this new study shows, having the operation sooner rather than later can potentially improve your medical outcomes. If you would like to talk about the gastric bypass, we’d be happy to answer your questions. You can talk with our weight loss experts by calling 855-690-0565.

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