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Weight Loss Surgery Hardly a Permanent Solution, Study Suggests

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Bariatric surgery can be an effective way to lose weight. But a new study shows that its effectiveness may only be temporary, with many patients regaining lost weight five years after their surgery took place.

The study, which was led by Dr. Andrei Keidar of Tel Aviv University, involved just under 450 obese patients, all of whom underwent sleeve gastrectomy procedures designed to help them lose weight. Keidar’s team then followed the patients for five years. They found that, after one year, participants had on average lost roughly 77-percent of their body weight. After three years, the number was 70-percent, while after 5-years it was just 56-percent.

But it wasn’t just body weight where patients slipped up over time. Keidar’s team found that half of all patients saw their diabetes go into remission after one year but by the five-year mark only one in five participants were in this position.

The same was true for low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Many participants saw LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels sink in the first year, only to have these levels surge by year five. Similar trends were seen when it came to blood pressure and hypertension.

Keidar says the study should demonstrate that weight loss surgery is hardly a permanent solution. “The first year after surgery is usually a honeymoon period that should be used for coining new habits, and the ones that don’t do that regain weight,” Keidar said. “Don’t take surgery as a panacea–beware of bad eating habits.”

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