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Weight loss prior to bariatric surgery carries risks

Mari A. Schaefer, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Health & Fitness

But the time spent waiting for patients to achieve a modest weight loss needs to be looked at in the context of putting off the health benefits of having the surgery, Tewksbury said. In addition, faced with the requirement, some patients change their minds about the surgery, she said.

"Obesity as a whole is considered the second leading cause of death," Tewksbury said. The risk of surgery is less than not seeking treatment, she said.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery has recently come out against the requirement. It stated mandating preoperative weight loss "contributes to patient attrition, causes unnecessary delay of lifesaving treatment, leads to the progression of life-threatening co-morbid conditions, is unethical, and should be abandoned."

There is almost a systemic bias when it comes to weight, Tewksbury said. Providers do not require the same level of scrutiny or counseling for patients that need a hip or knee replacement, which is an elective procedure to help improve quality of life, she said.

"Overall this is a study that is one step to showing that weight loss before surgery may not be as necessary as we once thought," she said.

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