Researchers from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of South Hampton have announced the results of a study that shows patients who undergo bariatric surgery do not suffer a higher risk of bone fractures — at least initially — as some had previously thought.
The study, reported by Health Day, revealed that patients who have bariatric surgery to lose weight are no more likely than anyone else to suffer a bone fracture in the immediate aftermath of the weight-loss procedure. Three to five years later, however, there was an increased risk.
“It has been recognized that surgical treatment is the most effective route to weight loss for many with morbid obesity,” Dr. Nicholas Harvey, senior lecturer at Southampton said in a school news release. “Overall, for the first few post-operative years, these results are reassuring for patients undergoing bariatric surgery, but do not exclude a more protracted adverse influence on skeletal health.”
According to Red Orbit, the term bariatric surgery refers to the weight-loss surgery performed on those with life-threatening obesity who do not respond to non-surgical treatment. It includes such procedures as gastric bypass and gastric band.
The researchers compared rates of broken bones between people who had bariatric surgery between 1987 and 2010 with people of the same age, sex, and body-mass index who didn’t have the surgery. Those who lost more weight had a slightly higher probability of fracture. Body-mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Red Orbit adds that in most cases, higher BMI’s are associated with higher bone density. Additionally, those with a higher BMI will usually have more protection around the bone.
The study did not make any definitive statements about whether this would affect a doctor’s likelihood to prescribe bariatric surgery, but it did show that at least in the short-term, that bariatric surgery will not be at higher risk of bone fractures.