Is Bariatric Surgery Safe for Seniors?

Posted by Patrick Domkowski on Tue, May 01, 2018

The decision to undergo bariatric surgery can be a difficult one to make, and many potential patients wonder “Is bariatric surgery safe?” While bariatric surgery improves your overall quality of life, many potential patients, especially the elderly, question the safety of the procedure. There are different types of bariatric surgery which means that there are different risks associated with each type of procedure. Nonetheless, the risks are extremely low and the surgery has proven to be safe, even for seniors.

Obesity Among the Elderly

Aging is associated with unpreventable changes in our body than can negatively affect our metabolism. Americans peak in weight in their early sixties, and this excess weight can decrease multiple aspects of our health. This includes, but is not limited to: respiratory function, memory and mood, chronic musculoskeletal, and skin problems.

Obesity also increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and liver and kidney disease - all of which can be fatal to seniors. Obesity among older adults remains prevalent because of the decrease in energy expenditure, particularly in the 50 to 65-year-old age range. For people around the age of 65 and older, hormonal changes that occur can cause excess fat to accumulate throughout the body. The health risks associated with obesity generally outweigh the risks of surgery.

The good news is, your age should not deter you from exploring the benefits of bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery improves a patient’s overall health and overall well-being, even for those over the age of fifty.  

Benefits of Bariatric Surgery for Seniors

Bariatric surgery is proven to be the most effective treatment for morbid obesity in all age groups, and can extend a patient’s life span by 6.5 years. With reduced weight, comes reduced risk for obesity-related ailments. Bariatric surgery can help you live a healthy lifestyle even in the later years of your life.

Several factors contribute to the difficulty of losing weight at an old age. According to geriatrician and endocrinologist Dr. Medha Munshi, even individuals who are active in their 30s begin to lose muscle mass every decade, replacing it with fat. Older people also tend to live more sedentary lifestyles, and engage in less physical activity. The elderly are more likely to experience aches and pains in their joints which makes it more of a challenge to get a sufficient amount of exercise.

Bariatric surgery doesn’t just extend your life-span, but it also improves the quality of your life. Without excess weight patients often experience increased mobility which allows them to participate more in things they used to enjoy, and spend more time with family and friends. Making the changes to be able to live your life with the people around you instead of being on the sidelines because of weight or weight related obstacles is a big push for patients to go through with surgery.

bariatric surgery for seniors guide

Bariatric surgery requires a full lifestyle change that motivates patients to develop long-lasting healthy habits. One of the key benefits of bariatric surgery is a whole new outlook on nutrition and exercise. As we get older, making these things a priority is very important, so be sure to talk to your surgeon about life after bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery is a safe lifestyle choice for seniors struggling with excess weight. Careful consideration is necessary for the decision to undergo the surgery. However, many people in their sixties and seventies regularly undergo bariatric surgery and do exceptionally well. Studies have demonstrated bariatric surgery to be a very safe and effective choice for senior citizens. You can schedule a personal consultation as an introductory meeting with one of Riverside’s experienced bariatric surgeons to learn more about the procedures and which one would be right for you.

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