The latest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delta variant seems to be waning in the United States. Vaccines are widely accessible and available to all people ages 12 and up, excluding very specific health conditions. Businesses are more likely than not operating at full capacity and events have mostly returned to their regular schedule. It has been a very difficult year, filled with loss, fear, change, disrupted plans, and many other complications. For weight loss patients, surgery may have been put on hold for a number of reasons. Elective surgeries were temporarily halted last year. Sickness may have prevented you from undergoing surgery. Other factors such a loss of a loved one, job changes, or other stressors may have resulted in temporary priority shifts. It was a heavy year for everyone.
As you begin to return to regular activities and rethink priorities, you may wondering how Covid-19 affects upcoming surgeries. We've posted before about weight and weight loss prior to Covid-19, as obesity is a risk factor for worse Covid-19 symptoms. We've seen research that suggests that obese individuals who lose weight have a better outcome--and fewer symptoms--if they eventually catch Covid-19. But, until recently, there has been very little published about the opposite scenario--what if you've had Covid-19 PRIOR to weight loss surgery? How does your past diagnosis with Covid-19 affect your future surgery?
We're not quite two years into the pandemic, so data collecting and analysis, is still in the preliminary stage for those who have previously had Covid-19 and then went on to have bariatric surgery. Preliminary studies can't paint a full picture of results but it can give us a glimpse at what the research might be suggesting. The good news is, according to preliminary research, patients can effectively and safely undergo bariatric surgery after Covid-19 diagnosis, as long as they have recovered, are showing no lasting symptoms, and have waited at least 30 days. "One study found that patients who underwent surgery before 30 days had higher rates of complications when surgery was performed within 1–2 weeks as compared to 2–4 weeks and > 4 weeks". The data also suggests that bariatric patients with a previous Covid-19 diagnosis exhibit slightly more weight loss immediately after surgery, but after six months, results evened out for all patients regardless of Covid-19 diagnosis. This shows that bariatric surgery is just as effective for patients despite their Covid-19 status.
Conclusion: According to preliminary research, bariatric surgery on patients with previous Covid-19 diagnosis is safe and effective, however, the "optimal time for surgery after a Covid-19 diagnosis" has yet to be determined.
If you have recently tested positive for Covid-19 and have questions about your future surgery, please contact your surgeon so that they can determine what is the best care for you.
Source: Cheung, M.S., Ying, L., Duffy, A.J. et al. Performing Bariatric Surgery on Previously COVID+ Patients Is Safe and Effective. OBES SURG31, 5082–5084 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11695-021-05659-5
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