Bariatric Surgery Outcomes

The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically over the last two decades; about 65 percent of adults in the United States are overweight. Morbid obesity affects females and males of all ages, all races and all educational levels, and is dramatically increasing health care costs. Recent studies indicate that 5 percent of medical spending in the United States is used to treat obese adults, resulting in an annual cost of $93 billion.

Obese individuals with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30kg/m2 (e.g., 5’11”, 215 lbs.) have a greatly increased risk for many physical and mental health problems such as diabetes, depression, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease and asthma. Obesity is an independent risk factor for premature death, accounting for 14 to 20 percent of all cancer-related deaths and cumulatively associated with 300,000 deaths each year.


Non-operative treatment of morbid obesity is ineffective. Low-calorie diets, exercise programs, behavioral modification regimens and medications are unsuccessful in long-term management of morbidly obese patients. The failure rates for these treatments in studies reporting more than two years of follow-up approaches are 98 percent. However, surgical treatment of morbid obesity has been proven to be effective for the long term.

At Virginia Mason we perform both open and laparoscopic bariatric operations. Bariatric (gastric bypass) surgery is the best treatment for morbid obesity. This procedure affects weight loss by restricting calorie consumption. Approximately 90 percent of patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery have excellent results, which are defined by acceptable weight loss (60 to 70 percent of excess weight) and the elimination of most, if not all, of the co-morbidities associated with morbid obesity.


National studies have shown that surgical outcomes are better in centers with high case volumes. Bariatric surgery at Virginia Mason is a high-volume procedure. Current case volumes exceed 200 per year. In addition, the bariatric surgery team at Virginia Mason offers individualized treatment for each patient. A dedicated nutritional-support team participates in the care of every patient. Many patients benefit from perioperative evaluations for sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation syndrome by our Sleep Center at Virginia Mason. A cardiac evaluation is frequently necessary. Our world-renowned Department of Anesthesia is critical in providing safe operative anesthesia and postoperative analgesia.

Learn more about bariatric surgery at Virginia Mason.

Our approach to the care of morbidly obese patients results in superior clinical outcomes.