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Updated 2021 Bariatric Surgery Success Rate Statistics & Trends

We’ve started to see some progress in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, but another worldwide health problem—obesity—shows no sign of easing. If anything, obesity trends in America are getting worse, and for many people, standard methods such as diet and exercise are not enough to help them attain the weight loss goals necessary to improve their health.

Obesity Trends in America

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of obesity in the adult population rose from 30.5% in 1999 to 42.4% in 2018, and severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. Obesity doesn’t just affect the people who have it, increasing their risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, it also costs billions of dollars a year. The annual cost of treating obesity and obesity-related conditions is more than $300 billion according to one estimate.

Over the last several decades, bariatric surgery, which limits food intake by reducing the stomach’s capacity and size, has increasingly been recognized as a proven way to enable people with obesity to achieve and sustain substantial weight loss and improve their health. Currently, bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for severe obesity and its associated medical problems, with 65% to 85% of patients reaching their weight loss goals.

Bariatric Surgery Success Statistics

More and more people are turning to this safe, effective, and often permanent treatment for obesity. According to March 2021 data from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) on bariatric surgery trends from 2011 to 2019, approximately 256,000 people had bariatric surgery in 2019, an increase of 62% from 2011. According to a bariatric surgery market forecast, the global bariatric surgery industry is expected to show a compound annual growth rate of 9.56% from 2019 to 2028, with drivers including increasing rates of obesity, more insurance coverage for bariatric surgery, and health initiatives aimed at reducing comorbidities. 

In addition to the overall upward trend in bariatric surgery as a treatment for obesity, there has been a shift in the type of surgery most often performed. There has been a significant increase in gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy) during the time period measured by the ASMBS—gastric sleeve surgery accounted for 59.4% of all bariatric surgeries performed in 2019, compared to 17.8% in 2011. The second most-used bariatric surgery type is Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) surgery, which accounted for 17.8% of all bariatric surgeries in 2019, down from 36.7% in 2011. The other major change in preferred surgery type is gastric band surgery, which was used in 35.4% of weight loss procedures in 2011 but just 0.9% in 2019.

Technology Advancements & Success Rate

Recent advancements in surgery technology have made bariatric surgery easier, safer, and more efficient. In particular, many bariatric surgeries are now done laparoscopically rather than with open surgery, a less invasive method that reduces pain and recovery time and shortens hospital stays. Even laparoscopic bariatric surgery continues to involve, with the latest method, single incision laparoscopic bariatric surgery (SILBS), requiring only a single incision rather than the usual half-dozen.

Not only are more people getting bariatric surgery, thanks to new technology and advancements, including minimally invasive surgery techniques, the bariatric surgery success rate is increasing. It’s also getting safer. According to the ASMBS, just 4% of bariatric surgery patients experience complications, and the mortality rate from the procedure is 0.1%.

A study by Harvard University predicted that 48.9% of U.S. adults will have obesity by 2030, with that number reaching higher than 50% in 29 states. Severe obesity is expected to affect 24.2% of adults by 2030 according to the report. With obesity trends in America rising, many more people will be turning to bariatric surgery as a safe, effective way to lose weight.

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