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Weight-loss surgery: concerns about complications

Perhaps inevitably, surgeons tend to see patients through the lens of surgery.

And to the extent that this is the case, it would certainly include the estimated one-third of people in the U.S. who are generally classified as obese. In recent years, doctors have encouraged many of these people to go ahead with a drastic intervention: weight-loss surgery.

In this post, we will take note of the concern about complications that continues to accompany this surgery.

To be sure, advocates for weight-loss surgery have more affirmative arguments than they used to. For example, there was a report today regarding a research study showing the positive effect of such surgery on blood-sugar levels for obese people who must manage those levels closely due to type 2 diabetes.

The study was performed at the Cleveland Clinic. Using a data set of 150 obese patients, it compared weight-loss surgery (of two different types) to other weight-control methods. One of the other methods was diet and exercise; another was diet and exercise supplemented with weight-loss medication.

The Cleveland Clinic researchers found that weight-loss surgery had a more favorable impact on patients' blood-sugar levels than the other methods.

This finding, however, must be placed in the context of the risk of complications that can come from bariatric surgery. After all, that surgery is a drastic intervention and can lead to infections or blood clots.

In short, the findings on weight-loss surgery announced today do not eliminate the risk of complications from surgery. The risk of complications from such intrusive surgery remains very real.

Source: Reuters, ""UPDATE 1 - Weight loss surgery helps reverse type 2 diabetes for some - study," Bill Berkrot and Ransdell Pierson, March 31, 2014

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