Three Take-Homes on Bariatric Surgery from Obesity Week

Obesity Week 2013 provided rich new insights for bariatric surgery professionals, with three hot topics standing out, now that we have had time to consider what we heard.

  1. Long-Term Outcomes. An impressive range of diverse long-term outcome data provided insight into both long-term benefits of surgery and into dramatically different responses that people can have to bariatric surgery. Long-term data from the landmark Swedish Obese Study showed that 31% of people with diabetes before surgery were free of diabetes 15 years later. Data from the Cleveland Clinic on gastric bypass surgery documented impressive reductions in cardiovascular complications of obesity — dyslipidemia, hypertension, nephropathy, retinopathy, and cardiovascular mortality.
    The greatest implications may come from data published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concurrent with Obesity Week. The data showed encouraging 3-year outcomes from the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS) study. Most important, though, was a new understanding of the stark differences between responders and non-responders to bariatric surgery. These findings add to the growing evidence that obesity is likely a collection of related, but different diseases that will require different approaches for effective treatment.
  2. Quality Standards. Advocates for and against accreditation standards for bariatric surgery programs served up a hot topic debate that resolved very little but allowed for a full airing of diverse perspectives. In a follow-up report, the Advisory Board Company concluded that accreditation will continue to be an important factor, because private payers will continue to rely upon such standards.
  3. The Rise of the Gastric Sleeve. Another hot topic debate centered on the future for gastric banding, which has seen significant declines in recent years. Emerging consensus seems to be that banding is unlikely to either surge or disappear entirely. But gastric sleeve procedures are poised to become dominant among bariatric surgery options.

Put these findings together with good numbers for the meeting and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is counting Obesity Week 2013 as a resounding success.

Click here to read a wrap-up of Obesity Week’s surgical programming from Medscape, click here to read the JAMA publication of the LABS study outcome data, and click here to read more about the accreditation debate from the Advisory Board Company.

Surgery, photograph © Phalinn Ooi / flickr

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