A landmark study by Monash University has shown that lap-band surgery provides substantial weight loss to patients for at least 20 years.
The study, by Monash’s Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) and the Centre for Bariatric Surgery (CBS), demonstrated that patients who had lap-band surgery 20 years ago now weigh an average of 30.1kg less than their initial weight.
Lap-band (laparoscopic adjustable gastric band) surgery places an adjustable band around the top of the stomach to reduce appetite.
Lead author Emeritus Professor Paul O’Brien said the data showed that the lap-band procedure had the potential to provide an acceptable and cost-effective long-term solution to obesity.
“What we need for people who are obese is durability in weight loss,” he said.
“Lifestyle treatments such as diets, exercise and appetite suppressants have been unable to achieve useful benefit in the medium term – three to 10 years – let alone the long-term.
“Lap-band patients at CBS were generally treated as day patients, the surgery was simple and safe and in this study there were no deaths related to it. Where obesity is a lethal disease, the surgery can be life-saving.”
Obesity is linked to a number of health problems including heart and lung disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, many cancers, osteoarthritis, psychosocial problems and depression and reduced life expectancy.
In an additional study included in the report, published in the journal Obesity Surgery, the researchers performed a review of the published literature for all common bariatric (weight loss) surgical procedures at 10 years or more after surgery.
They found strong evidence indicating that patients having gastric bypass surgery (where the stomach is divided) had weight loss of around 58 per cent of their excess weight and that those having biliopancreatic bypass (which re-routes the bowel so that food is not absorbed) lost 75 percent of their excess weight.
“The study demonstrates the long-term effectiveness for bariatric procedures in general, highlighting the urgent need for these procedures to become more available … and with better coverage from our private insurers,” study co-author and CORE director, Professor Wendy Brown, said.
All procedures showed a significant need for revision of all surgery over time although improvements in surgical techniques and the bariatric devices, and in after-care, had all led to a marked reduction in the need for additional surgery, Emeritus Professor O’Brien said.
A long-term partnership between doctor and patient with attention to eating rules, good nutritional care and exercise and activity was very important, he said.