Bariatric Surgery Recommended For Obese Patients with Fatty Liver Problems

A study published online in the journal JAMA suggests that bariatric surgery is beneficial to obese patients with fatty liver problems. Conducted by researchers from Cleveland Clinic, the study found that bariatric surgery for weight loss dramatically reduced the risks of chronic liver disease and cardiovascular complications in the future.

According to the researchers, obese people with fatty liver issues have 88% lower risks of cirrhosis, liver cancer, and related deaths after bariatric surgery. These patients also have 70% lower risks of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases when they opt for bariatric surgery to get at fatty liver.

“There is currently no FDA-approved medication for fatty liver,” said the managing director of Cleveland Clinic’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, Dr. Ali Aminian. “The striking findings of this study provide strong evidence that bariatric surgery should be considered as an effective therapeutic option for patients with advanced fatty liver and obesity.”

Aminian, who is also the lead author and researcher for the study, said fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatisis (NASH) are associated with diabetes, heart diseases, and liver complications.

A total of 1,158 participants who did liver biopsy from 2004-2006 at Cleveland Clinic and monitored till early 2021 were recruited for the study. The participants were divided into two groups – a group of 650 patients who did bariatric surgery and a control group of 508 patients who did not do the surgery.

After 10 years, the surgery group was found to have obtained lesser body weights by 22.4% and 4.6% in the control group. The surgery group was also found to have lower blood sugar in those with diabetes, verifying the health benefits of bariatric surgery. The study was a Surgical Procedures and Long-term Effectiveness in NASH Disease and Obesity Risk (SPLENDOR) research.

“The SPLENDOR study shows that in patients with obesity and NASH, substantial and sustained weight loss achieved with bariatric surgery can simultaneously protect the heart and decrease the risk of progression to end-stage liver disease,” said Steven Nissen, Chief Academic Officer of the Heart, Vascular and Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic. “This is the first study in the medical field reporting a treatment modality that is associated with decreased risk of major adverse events in patients with biopsy-proven NASH.”