Study Shows Obesity Surgery Improves Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Patients who elect to undergo minimally invasive gastric bypass surgery for morbid obesity not only achieve significant and long-term weight loss, but their problems with gastroesophageal reflux, abdominal pain and other symptoms of gastrointestinal distress improve, according to Dr. Ronald H. Clements of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The surgeon presented these findings Friday, June 28 2002 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery in Las Vegas.

“Before they have laparascopic gastric bypass surgery, morbidly obese patients are greatly bothered by a host of gastrointestinal symptoms,” says Clements, who compared patients’ symptoms to those of a group of people who were not dangerously overweight. “After surgery, these symptoms essentially returned to normal – their symptoms are no more troublesome than in the controls.”

There was one exception — the patients had more difficulty swallowing than the control group. Dr. Clements explained that this is to be expected because the operation reduces the patient’s stomach to the size of a thumb — “When the stomach is full, it is hard to swallow.”

However, measurements before surgery of abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastric reflux and sleep disturbances were as much as twice as high as that of the control group, he said.

“Symptoms related to the GI tract cause morbidly obese patients significant problems. Now we can tell them the data shows many of these difficulties will be improved after laparoscopic gastric bypss surgery.

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