Research undertaken in the United States based on 355 people who had weight loss surgery between 2014 and 2016 showed that the group who lost weight by adopting a low-calorie diet before undergoing surgery had improved outcomes in a number of areas, compared to the group that did not follow a low-calorie diet beforehand.
The main finding was that those patients who lost at least 8% of their excess weight as a result of the low-calorie diet in a four-week period before surgery were better able to continue that weight loss in the twelve months after the procedure. Not only did they have better long-term weight loss success, this group also spent less time in hospital after the procedure and the procedures themselves were also marginally quicker.
At the twelve-month mark, the group that had achieved the 8% weight loss ahead of surgery lost on average 65% of their excess weight, while the other group lost 55%. The results show that weight loss surgery is still worthwhile even if you are not able to lose some weight ahead of surgery, but that doing so definitely improves longer term success.
The better results of those patients who were able to lose some of the weight before the procedure were down to a number of factors, explained Dr John Scott, metabolic and bariatric surgery director at Greenville Health System, in Greenville in South Carolina.
He explained that the pre-operative weight loss would have reduced the size of the liver, the amount of fat mass and brought BMI for the patient down, resulting in “better surgical access and navigation, particularly for laparoscopic procedures. Additionally, preoperative weight loss improves blood glucose, blood lipids and blood pressure control.”
He also explained the added benefits of bariatric surgery (beyond weight loss) in terms of the changes in the way the body digests food and the positive impact that has on other medical conditions...
“Bariatric surgery changes the way the body digests, absorbs and metabolises nutrients so that a person is able to not only lose weight but also able to normalise appetite, blood sugar, blood lipids and blood pressure. These metabolic changes result in a greater amount of weight loss than diet and exercise alone, and in turn, this greater amount of weight loss can lead to remission of diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension and sleep apnoea.”
These results back up the real benefits of a multidisciplinary approach to weight loss surgery, where a small team of medical specialists - including dietitians and nutritionists - work with the patient alongside the surgeon, both before and after surgery.