Not Quite Over The Hill Yet!

Weight Loss Surgery For The Elderly?

It has long been a controversial topic of whether it is indeed safe and effective for people over the age of 60 to undergo surgery, particularly in the form of laparoscopic gastric banding. In many countries, it is a well-established statistic that a significant portion of the over 60 population are obese. In Australia alone, it was established that 20% of people aged over 60 are obese. Thus it has become a pressing question as to the effectiveness and safety of gastric banding, especially when one considers that obesity contributes to sleep apnoea, arthritis, urinary incontinence and several types of cancer, to name but a few.

In order to answer this question, a clinical research paper took 113 patients over 60 years of age and followed them for a period of 9 years, reporting on changes in their quality-of-life and any complications and changes in obesity. The results of the research paper produced hope for the elderly and set the framework for encouraging those who are overweight and over 60 to use the gastric band.

Not only were there no fatal complications, but there was no gastric band related complication that could not be solved. Moreover, over the years there was a large improvement in mental health, with the increase in mental health being over the population norm. Outlook on life and depression had changed over time and the number of patients on anti-depressants dropped by a relatively significant percentage.

Before the gastric band was placed, back and lower limb pain were common ailments in this group of people and by the end of the study, back pain was better or much better in nearly half of all the patients and there was also an improvement in hip/knee pain.

Of the diabetics within the group, 74.2% reported an improvement in their condition, with 43.8% of diabetics using less diabetic medications. In addition, half of the affected patients reported improvement in their hypertension, sleep apnoea or other respiratory condition.

By the end of the study, all the patients were asked whether they would recommend the gastric band to other obese patients over 60, to which 92.1% said ‘yes’.

The conclusion drawn from this research is that gastric banding in obese patients over 60 can markedly improve quality of life in each of physical, mental, emotional and social contexts. The procedure was classified as safe and well tolerated in this age group and lead to improvements in medical co-morbidities.

So, if you are over 60 years old and are considering weight loss surgery, keep in mind that the researchers stated that gastric banding is the most appropriate bariatric procedure for your age group due to its inherent safety and efficacy.

REF: OBES SURG (2011) 21:10-17
DOI 10.1007/s11695-010-0158-3
Anthony Clough
Laurent Layani
Abha Shah
Lucas Wheatley
Craig Taylor