For the average person in this study, there was a 19-pound weight loss difference between the bypass and sleeve procedures after five years. The average person in this study weighed 277 pounds before surgery, the researchers said.
But the 30-day rate of serious complications for gastric bypass was nearly double the risk of the sleeve procedure. The rate of complications in the 30-day period after surgery was 5 percent for gastric bypass, 2.6 percent for sleeve gastrectomy and 2.9 percent for adjustable gastric banding.
The complications measured in the study included death, reoperation/repair procedures, clots, or failure to be discharged from the hospital within 30 days.
Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are similar in terms of cost, according to Arterburn. Each procedure averages between $20,000 and $30,000, he estimated. Adjustable gastric banding is less expensive and may average around $15,000, he noted. Insurance coverage for these procedures varies quite a bit, and not all will cover weight-loss surgery.
Dr. Mitchell Roslin, director of the bariatric surgery program at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y., said that people shouldn’t only focus on the total weight loss when trying to select a procedure.
“There is no perfect way. The more we change the body, the higher the weight loss, but complications may be higher. There’s no one-size-fits-all weight-loss surgery,” said Roslin, who wasn’t involved with the study.
“The decision really requires detailed conversation and education. You need to understand your own individual medical issues and objectives,” he said.
Arterburn added that people should look for a surgeon that has experience in multiple weight-loss procedures.
The findings were published Oct. 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.