home
RSS
July 27th, 2010
05:55 PM ET

Fewer complications at busiest bariatric centers

If you're in the market for bariatric – or weight loss – surgery, a new study suggests the busiest centers may be the best.

According to the study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, bariatric surgery centers that see the most number of patients and do the most cases tend to have the lowest rates of complication.

"The rates of serious complications are twice as high for low volume hospitals and surgeons as they are for large centers," said Nancy Birkmeyer, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and lead author of the study.

Birkmeyer and her team looked at surgical outcomes for more than 15,000 patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 2006 and 2009 in the state of Michigan. Of the total number of patients, only 2 percent had serious complications – including leaks, bleeding, infection, blood clots and respiratory failure.

One surprising study finding was that so-called bariatric "centers of excellence" did not necessarily have lower complication rates, and in some cases, actually had higher rates.

"It's important for patients to understand that hospitals that have Center of Excellence designation have met minimum standards for safety," Birkmeyer said, "but they're not necessarily the hospitals with the best outcomes."

So how can you avoid becoming a statistic? Dr. John Baker, immediate past-president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery,  says just ask the right questions.

"When I operate on a patient, I've already told them that I've done this for 20 years, I've done 2,500 cases, and I've had only 8 leaks," Baker says. "Ask your surgeon: What procedures do you do? What's your experience? What are your outcomes?"

Baker goes on to say that there really is truth the old adage "practice makes perfect."

"The more cases you do, the more your whole team becomes attuned to looking for and listening for the potential signs of complication."


soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. max

    Whatever happened to Dr's performing preventative medicine? Why isn't their physician putting them on diets and taking care of this problem before it is a problem? Why? Because they need the business – Cousin Maury the fat hacker needs a new condo on South Beach, so let Joe Shmo gain 300 pounds, and after I have him on every cholesterol medicine and high blood pressure medicine that I get jkickbacks on, I'll send him to cousin Maury, so he can get his share.

    July 27, 2010 at 19:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • James

      Doctors DO tell their patients to go on diets and exercise all of the time. My ex-wife was told repeatedly. To her credit, she wasn't a lazy person and put on weight easily, but I can tell you that a doctor telling an adult to do something doesn't make it so. My ex-wife did end up getting gastric bypass surgery in 2004; I don't know how she's doing now as we divorced in 2005.
      The basic problem is that many people refuse to take responsibility for their own health. They eats foods they KNOW are bad for them, eat far too much, don't exercise, and then expect modern medicine to cure everything, when it can't. Blaming the doctors for this is akin to blaming the messenger for bad news.
      I have always taken a proactive role in my own health, and am a healthy 38 year old man, still have a 32 inch waist, work out 5 times per week and watch what I eat. The best part is when I meet people from 20 years ago and realize that I look so much better than they do!

      July 28, 2010 at 12:02 | Report abuse |
    • K Pearson

      Because diets don't work. Look at the statistics. The National Center for Disease Control says that if you are over 100 lbs overweight, you have as just much of dieting that off as flying to the moon in a cardboard box.

      Think about it....my son is trying to gain weight right now. It's incredibly hard for him to do. His body WANTS him at a certain weight.

      Weight control surgery is the only way for people morbidly obese. You spend $25,000 to save a lifetime of medical expenses from diabetes, sleep apnea and stroke.

      July 28, 2010 at 13:05 | Report abuse |
  2. max

    Why isn't the media inverstigating poor medical practices instead of highlighting crap like this? The high cost of health care has been caused by the industry itself. The drug companies and medical practicioners have created a self licking ice cream cone – they feed off of each other. The drug companies provide kickbacks to doctors who prescribe their drugs, and the doctors get repeat business because the drugs never cure anything, they just mask the symptoms. When was the last time a drug company actually introduced a drug that cured something, or at least didn't come with a disclaimer? Our government knows this, and their response? Universal health care – what a joke. Look into your Congressman's coffers and see who is subsidizing him – I bet he gets something from the AMA. The Health Care bill did nothing to stop greedy practices, why do you think the AMA backed it. The greedy media doesn't want to cover this- which is the real story...out of fear of losing advertisers.

    July 27, 2010 at 19:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Bigbottomgirl

    I went to a large clinic in Newport Beach, CA and they basically said the results will not be good if you aren't willing to put the effort in once the surgery is done. They also charged a lot of fees to my PPO plan before anything started. The surgery cannot do it all, so why bother with the surgery pay a portion of the $60,000 in fees charged to my insurance for endocscopy, echocardigrams, and other numeorus tests before they will even proceed with the surgery . This industry is a financial scam. There is no magic in losing weight, you have to put in the effort, low calories and exercise. I have managed to drop 30 pounds in 3 months through reducing sweets and walking, only 70 pounds to go.., I can do it without them taking my money and risking my health. I have read some awesome books through this process to inspire... The Diet Alternative was one of them.

    July 27, 2010 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • max

      Good job girl! That's the way to go. Don't rely on these quacks to provide the easy way out and break your bank. Rely on yourself and your own good judgement!! Keep sweating!

      July 27, 2010 at 20:10 | Report abuse |
    • Jess

      Max – no worries, Rose is the idiot. Bigbottomgirl – Congrats to you! I agree, you are better off doing the work yourself to lose the weight. Even with any type of surgery, you can gradually start eating more and stretch the stomach and quit exercising and gain back all the weight. So why put yourself at risk of other health complications and do that when you still have to make lifelong changes in your eating and exercise habits? Do the same thing without surgery and you can be more proud of your result, and have a better chance of little to no complications. It may take longer to lose the same amount of weight, but it will come off.

      July 28, 2010 at 09:39 | Report abuse |
    • bypass8yearsago

      I lost 215 pounds on my own from 1997-1999, and I started gaining back the minute I ate more than stir-fry vegetables for dinner. I had the surgery in 2002 after I had gained 100 back in spite of working out and being (reasonably) careful. I am happy to say that I remain at my goal weight. I work out regularly and watch what I eat very carefully, but there is no question that having this surgery saved my life. You still have to work at it, but it makes it possible to keep the weight off, whereas if you lose a lot of weight on your own, it is next to impossible to keep it off (unfortunately).

      July 28, 2010 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
  4. Rose

    You're an idiot Max

    July 27, 2010 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • max

      Why is that Rose? On what basis do you make that statement...do tell!

      July 27, 2010 at 20:08 | Report abuse |
  5. Susie

    Preventive medicine is the way to go, but you have to admit that once there is a big problem you need big solutions to remedy the situation. There's a company called WooHoo Foods that is making healthy snacks for kids with omega-3s called Gudernoobs and they're 100% all natural snacks that will hopefully get a bunch kids on the right track with eating healthy.

    July 27, 2010 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. debbie

    i had weight loss surgery and it was worth every penny. i have a awesome doctor who has given me hope that other diets and pills did not work. it hasn't been a year since my surgery and i have successfully have lost 90 lbs and feel 100 times better. yes, it was alot of work but the end results have given me my life and health back.

    July 27, 2010 at 22:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. CutTheCarb

    Instead of using orthodox methods, like bariatric surgeries, better invest in the prevention of obesity. Why don't look at diet? Obesity was rare before the 20th century and didn't exist among primitive living populations. This video, http://bit.ly/duSiUK gives you more insight into obesity.

    July 28, 2010 at 03:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Vanessa

    BEST DECISION I EVER MADE!!! I had Bariatric (Bypass) Surgery 7 months ago. I did so not so much for the weight loss, but for the fact that DIABETES is signigicantly reduced or eliminated in 90% of bypass patients. Everyone in my Dad's side of the familiy has diabetes whether they weigh 125lbs or 300lbs. I am NON-DIABETIC after my surgery; between the surgery eliminating my diabetes and my thyroid issues, I am SAVING the myself and the healthcare system A FORTUNE. I know this for a fact; My Dad died from complication of Diabetes at 54, and had to endure multiple heart surgeries, Dialysis for years, amputations etc. I was able to lose about 40lbs with diet (whole foods) and exercise alone, but after that no matter what I did the rest of the weight would not come off. Prior to the surgery my body was a fat storing machine, and now it is a fat burning machine. Between being non-diabetic and losing an additional 80lbs safter surgery, I feel GREAT!! I recently went of vacation and was able to Snorkel, walk 4 miles on the beach, and ride a bike all in the same afternoon, and wasn't even tired.

    July 28, 2010 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Arthur

    I have had Bariatric surgery and lost 189 lbs. It sounds like some of the people commenting here have never had a weight problem. If you have never had the problem then you have no right to offer your advice of just dieting. I have had this issue my whole life. I have been on one diet after another. They don’t work. Yes you must comment to life style changes after the surgery but for me it was the only thing that has ever worked. I am now 18 months out from the surgery and the change in the way I feel is remarkable. The health issues I had before are gone and I feel I will live much longer because of the surgery. The surgery is not right for everyone but for some of us it is the only way.

    July 28, 2010 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. greeneyesva

    I also had Bariatric surgery in November 2009 and have lost 105 pounts. This was the best decision I ever made. I had tried every diet known and could not lose the weight. I think some of the posters on here need to lighten up and be kinder. Yes, this surgery is not for everyone, but the results out weight the negatives. As stated by some others, the surgery usually makes the patient diabetic free after the surgery, helps lower cholesterol. For me the main reason I did it was to help my heart. I suffer from A-Fib and have not had any problems with it since my surgery. THis is great for me because I was going into the hospital with it about every 2-3 months before my surgery with my heart in A-Fib. My health care costs have decreased significantly. So to all of you who are on this great journet and losing weight – YOU GO!!! Keep up the good work. I still have about 115 pounds more to lose – and I will do it. I feel so good now I can't believe it!!

    July 28, 2010 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. DS

    I had gastric bypass 9 years ago. it was the best decision i ever made. i have had 2 healthy children and lead the best lifestyle. no diet worked for me b/c physilogocially my body needed help. you have to want this. everyday i make healthy choices, surgery was just a tool to get here.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. JMC

    I HAD THE BARIATRIC SURGERY (LAPBAND) TWO YEARS AGO COME THIS SEPT AND I FEEL GREAT.TO THE PEOPLE COMMENTING HERE ABOUT THIS TYPE OF SURGERY AND DO NOT NEED TO THINK ABOUT IT GOD BLESS YOU. I WAS ONE WHO HAD TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! AND I HAD TRIED ALL TYPES OF DIETS AND THEY WORKED BUT THE WEIGTH CAME BACK ON AND A LITTLE MORE. WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS SURGERY IS EATING STARTS IN YOUR HEAD AND TELLS YOU TO EAT AND EAT. WITH THE BAND IN PLACE THE STOMACH TELLS THE HEAD THAT IT IS TIME TO STOP AND THIS IS WHY I HAVE DROP MY WEIGHT. WITH THIS SURGERY YOU MUST RETHINK WHAT YOU EAT AND THE AMOUNT ALL THE TIME AND IT IS NOT A PILL THAT CAN TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM. I WORK AT IT 24/7 DAY IN AND OUT. GOD BLESS THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD AND TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ITHINKING ABOUT IT.

    July 28, 2010 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RAB

    My wife had laparoscopic roux en Y gastric bypass 2 1/2 years ago. She developed a postoperative leak two days later. She had an exploratory laparotomy and was sent to the surical ICU. While in the ICU she developed MRSA, septic shock, SIRS, ARDS, and renal failure. She spent about 1 1/2 months in the ICU and almost died twice. After the ICU she spent another 2 1/2 months in the hospital for rehabilitation and spent another month in a nursing home rehabilitation center. She lost her job and is now permanently disabled. Yes she has lost weight, but not the way she thought she would. If you are planning to have this surgery have frank discussions with your surgeons. They say only only 2 % develop these complications, but for my wife and our family it is still a high number.

    July 28, 2010 at 12:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JoAnn Johnson

      My daughter had this surgery on July1,2010. On 2nd day had a leak was in ICU 5 days then went to surgical floor for another 15 days due to 6 abscess and needed 4 drains before DC to home. She has been in pain since day one and is not sleeping. Dr. says she's doinf fine but I don't understand why so much pain. She is barely eating and wants to give up!!! She lives in Ga. and had procedure done in a small town . I want her to go to Atlanta and get another opinion but I don't know any Drs. there. Do you have any advise ????

      August 12, 2010 at 09:10 | Report abuse |
  14. spuncgalina

    buy best chanel fall 2010 online at my estore

    January 5, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.