The patients' results a year after the procedure were maintained or improved at two years, according to the study, which was published online May 2 in the journal Obesity.
"Patients in our study had been obese for an average of 17 years," study author Dr. Robert Michaelson, of Northwest Weight Loss Surgery in Everett, Wash., said in a journal news release. "They tried numerous other weight-loss methods and finally reached out for surgical treatment when they were wary of the repetitive failures at maintaining weight loss."
"The results of this study convinced the FDA that early intervention in the continuum of obesity is the right thing to do: Treat before people go on to develop serious conditions [related to] obesity," Michaelson said.
In addition, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery issued a position statement endorsing weight-loss surgery for patients with moderate obesity who have not had success with non-surgical methods of weight loss.
"The next step is to get the private insurers and Medicare, who continue to rely on guidelines established in 1991, to review the incontrovertible literature, take down the barriers to the necessary treatment for this disease, and offer the hope of a cure to 27 million Americans," Michaelson said.
In an editorial accompanying the study, however, experts said the long-term benefits and risks of this procedure in people with a BMI lower than 40 still need to be determined. They also noted that studies have shown that very severely obese people who have had the Lap-Band procedure often begin to regain weight about two years after the surgery.
There are also concerns that serious side effects are common, including reports of device removal rates as high as 50 percent, said Dr. David Arterburn, of the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, and Dr. Melinda Maggard, of the University of C
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