Patients over the age of 65 who are considering obesity surgery should make themselves aware of the added risks associated with the procedure, according to a surgeon in the field.
Dr Edward Livingston, a surgeon at the UT Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, told Reuters Health that the risk of complications following obesity surgery shows a "steep increase" after the age of 65.
"You've got to go into this knowing that the risks are very formidable and you and your family have to be prepared to take those risks," he said.
Dr Livingston conducted a review of more than 25,000 obesity operations which is published in this month's Archives of Surgery.
He found that 20 per cent of patients aged 65 or older spent a week or longer in hospital after surgery, indicating that they had experienced complications such as leakage of the stitches used to link together sections of the stomach or intestine, sepsis or pneumonia.
In addition, patients who were male, had electrolyte imbalances or suffered from diabetes were at greater risk of complications and Dr Livingston revealed that, although patients with obesity-related conditions can gain the most from obesity surgery, they are also more likely to suffer complications.
Dr Clifford Deveney of Oregon Health and Science University said that researchers needed to "look at the benefits in the vast majority of patients who survive their bariatric procedure to determine what an appropriate risk is for a given patient".
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