Sleeve Gastrectomy for BMI less than 35: Is it Worth it?

Sleeve Gastrectomy for BMI less than 35: Is it Worth it?

“Determining the health benefits of sleeve gastrectomy in patients with body mass index, BMI less than 35” is a new article published in Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases journal. The authors compare the outcomes of sleeve gastrectomy in 1073 patients with low BMI to 44511 patients with BMI more than 35 (mean BMI 46.7).

Statistical analysis shows comparable rates of hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia medication discontinuation. Low-BMI patients were more likely to achieve a healthy BMI (less than 25). The authors conclude that despite being older and with higher rates of metabolic disease, low-BMI sleeve gastrectomy patients benefited from bariatric surgery. Furthermore, low-BMI sleeve gastrectomy patients were more likely to achieve a healthy weight. Therefore, abolishing the BMI threshold for sleeve gastrectomy should be considered.

I wholeheartedly agree with these conclusions. Sleeve gastrectomy is currently one of the safest general surgeries we perform with very high success rate. Why wait to lose weight? Bariatric surgery is currently the most effective treatment for type 2 diabetes. Denying low-BMI patients with metabolic disease a safe and effective procedure like sleeve gastrectomy is not reasonable. BMI is a statistical tool established more than 50 years ago by insurance companies to predict mortality in a population. BMI, however, is not a personalized measure of one’s health. A diabetic low-BMI patient is at higher risk for cardio-vascular disease then a non-diabetic high-BMI patient. Eliminating diabetes at a lower BMI and younger age should be the norm rather than the exception. Sleeve gastrectomy is a powerful tool to safely control and cure metabolic disease. It is time to update our guidelines.

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