Is bariatric surgery dangerous? Recent reports from Washington State citing a 1-year mortality of 1.9%1 and a 1-year death rate of 4.6% in Medicare beneficiaries undergoing bariatric operations2 received widespread attention from the lay press. A seemingly high mortality due to bariatric procedures provided ammunition to the insurance industry, which responded by reducing or eliminating coverage. High mortality rates called into question the risk-benefit ratio for operations that remain the only proven modality for achieving sustained weight loss in the morbidly obese.
Livingston EH. Death Rates and Causes of Death After Bariatric Surgery for Pennsylvania Residents, 1995 to 2004—Invited Critique. Arch Surg. 2007;142(10):929. doi:10.1001/archsurg.142.10.929