A new study presented at the American College of Cardiology conference found that the majority of 50 obese patients who had laparoscopic gastric banding (Lap-Band) for weight loss experienced sustained resolution of metabolic syndrome, as much as five years after surgery. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist or abnormal cholesterol levels, that raises the risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. Being overweight and inactive are major contributors to the syndrome.
The 50 patients included in the study had a body mass index (BMI) of between 30 and 40, with an average of 35 and at least 1 obesity-related comorbidity. Almost half of the patients met metabolic syndrome criteria at the start of the study. But the researchers found that most saw resolution of the syndrome at one year post-surgery and continued throughout year 5.
In addition to improvement in metabolic syndrome criteria, significant weight loss results were observed, with the average BMI dropping from 35 to 27.9 at year 5. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol all improved at years 1 and 2 and fasting blood glucose was significantly reduced and sustained out to year 5. The researchers concluded that “laparoscopic gastric banding produces significant weight loss and resolution of metabolic syndrome by improvement in multiple diagnostic criteria and reduces use of diabetes and high blood pressure medications. These changes persisted over 5 years following surgery.”
The research was conducted by New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. We spoke with Dr. Christine Ren Fielding of the NYU Langone Weight Management Program, who was involved with the study. She explained that the purpose of the study was to examine the effect of early intervention bariatric surgery, specifically using the Lap-Band, on metabolic health in obese patients with BMI 30-40. She said, “Many people, including physicians, feel that bariatric surgery should be reserved for the ‘morbidly obese’, classified as having BMI well over 40. However, we know that individuals with BMI as low as 30 suffer from metabolic syndrome and benefit from bariatric surgery.” Dr. Ren Fielding concluded that since the vast majority of patients experienced long-term improvement or resolution of their metabolic syndrome, their findings support the importance of health benefits, rather than weight requirements only, as an indication for surgery.
Other recent research has demonstrated the long-term benefits of laparoscopic adjustable banding. Earlier this year the Annals of Surgery published a landmark study that followed Lap-Band patients for up to 15 years after surgery, making it the longest and most comprehensive Lap Band follow-up study yet reported. The findings showed encouraging results in terms of both the long-term safety and efficacy of the procedure. You can read more about the study here.