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Bariatric Surgery Does Not Reduce Health Care Expenses

Last Updated: July 18, 2012.

In a group of older men with substantial disease burden, bariatric surgery is not associated with reduced health care expenditures within three years of surgery, according to research published in the July issue of the Archives of Surgery.

WEDNESDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- In a group of older men with substantial disease burden, bariatric surgery is not associated with reduced health care expenditures within three years of surgery, according to research published in the July issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Matthew L. Maciejewski, Ph.D., of the Durham Veteran's Affairs Medical Center in North Carolina, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study of 847 predominantly older male veterans with substantial disease burden who underwent bariatric surgery and 847 matched nonsurgical control patients. Participants were treated at 12 VA medical centers to determine whether overall, inpatient, and outpatient health care expenditures were reduced after surgery.

The researchers found that, in the three years leading up to the bariatric surgical procedure, total, outpatient, and inpatient health care expenditures for surgery patients trended upward but declined to those of the nonsurgical control patients within three years of the procedure.

"Although bariatric surgery was not associated with reduced expenditures in this cohort of older, predominantly male patients, many patients may still choose to undergo bariatric surgery given the strong evidence of significant reductions in body weight and comorbidities and improved quality of life," the authors write. "Expenditures may decline further for surgical cases in the longer term, but there were no differences in health expenditures between the surgical and nonsurgical cases during three years of follow-up."

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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