Weight Loss Surgery Doesn't Cut Health Costs

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , February 21, 2013

But Robin Blackstone, MD, immediate past president of the American Association for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and Medical Director of Scottsdale Healthcare Bariatric Center, took the paper and its methodology apart, even suggesting "it was irresponsible for them to publish it."

For starters, she says, the researchers used claims data between 2002 and 2008, a period when many bariatric procedures were performed with riskier open surgical incisions rather than the current laparoscopic techniques. In fact, the original method of open gastric bypass, one of five types of bariatric procedures performed, accounted for more than one-third of the operations.

Additionally, she says, it's inappropriate to do such a cost analysis because similar studies aren't done for surgeries for other conditions, like heart disease or lung cancer.

"I think we all need to realize that for individual who are obese, having surgery makes a huge difference in their lives. I see patients with diabetes, on 20 different meds all with bad side-effects, constantly seeing the doctor, not productive at work, exhausted because of painful joints, who are having trouble being good partners or good parents. And to see all of that reversed and [to see] people becoming re-engaged is so valuable," Blackstone said.

"If this were lung cancer or heart disease, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

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1 comments on "Weight Loss Surgery Doesn't Cut Health Costs"

Michelle Vicari (2/27/2013 at 2:23 AM)
I had gastric bypass surgery in 2006. The 158 pound weight loss I achieved resolved all my health issues Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea, High Blood Pressure, and a host of other obesity related health issues I was suffering with. I am off all 8 prescription medications I was on prior to surgery. I have not been to the doctor for anything more than routine check-ups in 6 1/2 years, a great savings to my insurance company but more importantly there's no price that can be put on the quality of life I have gained. Best decision I ever made.




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