According to The Los Angeles Times gastric bypass surgery for weight loss is as safe for the elderly as it is for younger patients, researchers said Monday. Several small studies reported previously have yielded mixed results about safety in those over 65, but a new study on a much larger group of patients finds no increased risk from the procedure. Elderly patients do end up spending more time in the hospital after the surgery, however, said Dr. Robert B. Dorman of the University of Minnesota at a Digestive Diseases Week meeting in Chicago.
Dorman and his colleagues studied 48,378 patients who underwent bariatric surgery of all types between 2005 and 2009. About 5% of the patients were over age 65. They examined the 30-day mortality rate in the patients and found that it was slightly, but not significantly, higher in those over 65 — although it was under 1% for all groups.
Weight-loss surgery in the elderly population poses an even greater likelihood of loose and lax skin after weight loss. Dr. O’Toole explains to his patients that loose skin cannot be tightened with exercise. The most popular procedures for post massive weight loss patients are abdominoplasty, thigh lift, and arm lift. Older patients must provide medical clearance from their primary care provider prior to surgery. In most cases Dr. O’Toole will also recommend an overnight stay. In the interest of safety he will most likely recommend that the procedures are performed separately.
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