Source: Arterburn DE, et al. Association between bariatric surgery and long-term survival. JAMA2015;313:62-70.

 The benefits of bariatric surgery are gaining new levels of respect as long-term evidence of favorable outcomes — other than cosmetic — continue to accrue. Indeed, in the population of obese diabetics, bariatric surgery is one of the only interventions documented to improve all-cause mortality.

New support for the positive impact of bariatric surgery comes from a retrospective cohort study of patients (n = 2500) who had undergone bariatric surgery in Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospitals throughout the United States in the interval from 2000-2011. Survival in these patients was compared with a control group matched for age, body mass index (BMI), and type 2 diabetes. The mean pre-surgical BMI in the BAR group was 47, and mean age was 52 years.

In the follow-up intervals from years 1-5 and, years later, 5-14, there was a distinct advantage favoring bariatric surgery patients, who enjoyed a greater than 50% lower all-cause mortality than matched controls.

Because this study is retrospective, it cannot be regarded as definitive in proving that bariatric surgery reduces mortality. Additionally, because these data were collected from VA hospitals, the patient population was disproportionately male (74%). Nonetheless, the accumulating evidence consistently points to favorable effects of bariatric surgery upon mortality.