Weight Loss Surgery for Seniors

Question Below Submitted By:  

Marie Jean (a patient from Milford, Mass)

I started a bariatric program and am scheduled to have gastric sleeve surgery in a week. I am a senior (65 years old) and not in the best health. I am also in an Overeaters Anonymous (OA) group.

I want to lose the weight with the gastric sleeve and OA, but I am concerned about the safety of weight loss surgery considering my age.

Do you know of many seniors that have had weight loss surgery?

If so, were there any problems that resulted from their age? Were they able to lose weight and keep it off?


Expert Responses to the Question Above

Surgeon Response to "Weight Loss Surgery for Seniors"

by: John Rabkin, MD

Marie Jean,

Your age of 65 alone should not deter you from pursuing the benefits of weight loss surgery (WLS). The vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG, aka 'gastric sleeve') has a very low associated morbidity (complication) risk and is routinely offered to and performed in patients much older than you.

Certainly, the risk of any surgical intervention increases as one gets older; however, your prospective WLS is very safe and the potential benefits routinely outweigh any of the associated risks provided that you don't have other health issues that would dramatically increase your risk of surgery.

If this was the case, your bariatric surgeon would not likely be offering to perform the procedure for you in the first place.

As with any WLS procedure that relies entirely on the principle of restriction (small capacity stomach) to effect the desired weight loss without the benefit of malabsorption, there is a risk of weight regain over time as the small capacity stomach stretches.

However, this is where your age of 65 'favors' you with this procedure as you are less likely to face weight regain over time compared with patients who undergo the VSG at a much younger age: as people age into their 70s/80s, they tend to stabilize their weight and eventually begin to lose weight without any WLS, so your risk of weight regain is reasonably low.

Overall, patients do very well with the gastric sleeve in your age group in my experience.

John Rabkin,
M.D.Pacific Laparoscopy

(click here for Dr. Rabkin's full bio & contact info)

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

Related Pages:
- Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Complete Patient Guide
- Medicare Coverage for Weight Loss Surgery


Patient Responses to the Question Above

Senor Weight Loss Surgery

by: Rosanne


I had an RNY Gastric Bypass surgery at the age of 66 and have not had a bit of trouble with it. I am going to be 70 next month and have kept the weight off and feel so much better. I no longer have to take ANY Diabetes medication. I was on Insulin and 2 kinds of pills and have not had to take them since the surgery, which I this think is miraculous! Because I couldn't get it under control before the surgery.

You will feel so much better after you lose your weight and not regret it for a minute. Take care and you will be fine......

Rosanne (Originally from Revere, Mass. Now from Arkansas)

Successful gastric sleeve @ age 66

by: Mia

Hello, I had a gastric sleeve at age 66 and have been able to keep the weight off for a year and a half so far. I had some major complications after the surgery that caused me to lost a lot of weight fast, so my experience is not typical, but I would not worry about your age. The surgery will likely improve your health: I was able to go off blood pressure meds, drastically lower statin med, and greatly reduce insulin as my diabetes has been extremely good. My A1c has been at 6 since I lost weight, and that is in a normal range.

I have more energy, and am much healthier since losing weight. I encourage you to go for it and continue your good eating habits that you are learning in OA.

I am a surgery patient post op 3 weeks

by: Donna

I am 66 years old. Four years ago I had the lap-band placed and I did loss 60 lbs but I really think it was mostly from being on liquid diet for 5 week (two weeks before and three weeks after the surgery). I was at a stand still after about a year and four years later (2016) I had it removed for fear it would grow into my stomach.

I was scared to death of gaining the weight back as with the band removed I was hungry 24/7. I asked the doctor to do the sleeve, but changed my mind to the gastric bypass surgery.

I had quadruple bypass surgery in 2012, have diabetes with A1C of 10, high BP and High Cholestrol (when diagnosed my Triglicerides were 1700). I have fibromyalgia. I have had a hysterectomy at 25 years old, ribectomy, 3-C sections, appendectomy, and gall bladder removal. I have severe heartburn and have been on prevacid for years. I also, have a hiatal hernia.

I guess u could say I am a mess.

I had the gastric bypass three weeks ago. The worse pain was in my right side. It was a stabbing burning pain. I took pain meds for about three days and that was good. Then the real problem began.

Because I can't take my pills (pouch is only walnut size), I stopped my prevacid. I stopped all my pills and insulin. My BP is perfect, my sugars are normal, but oh the heart burn sent me to the ER. I didn't even think it was because of no pills.

The ER could not get it to stop so gave me a pain med that stopped it for about one hr and told me to take a heart burn med liquid form which was $100 copay, plus the pain med given to me by my surgeon. The next day I called the surgeon crying like a baby.

The pain was worse then a heart attack. He took the time to explain to me what was happening. Long story short needed to get the protonics back into my system which would take about four days and to stop taking pain meds as it slows down the intestinal tract and makes it worse. He put me on four liquid anticides and a new stronger protonic then prevacid.

This is the third day and I am finally able to move around and am in very little pain and can drink again. I am not sorry I had this surgery. I am down from 191 to 179 lbs. haven't seen 179 in years.

Now the only thing is I have a lot of loss skin and can't afford to get it removed. My arms were so big they looked deformed and have to still wear a 3X to get the shirts over my arms. It is really embarrassing. I guess I was in denial because I never saw my arms getting this big until about a year ago.

I have never been a vain person, but sure would like to go in public without people staring at me. I am very happy about my health. I have about 50 more lbs to loss to be at my goal weight. I hope this helps other people (seniors) understand what they are in for.

I knew going in it would not be easy and have accepted that, but the stuggles are so well worth it.

Over 65 and RNY surgery

by: Dori Logan

Im a 65 yr old senior who is due to have RNY gastric bypass on January 29, 2018. I do have a few health problems but not as severe as some. I get around pretty well although I need a right knee replacement surgery.

I had stomach stapling surgery 30 yrs ago. I lost over 100 lbs and I've maintained 60 of it. Im not afraid of surgery. I feel like Im a strong person.

I looked for a doctor to do a revision for yrs. I retired from nursing 2 yrs ago. This spring I finally found a doctor who would do it.

I'd like to hear from anyone else who has had weight loss surgery and is a senior. How was your experience?

Well Worth It

by: Mark

I had gastric sleeve surgery on 04/16/18. I’m 56 years old, 6’2 and weighed 315 pounds. I was at a BMI of 40. I had a quadruple heart bypass at age 47. At age 53 I was diagnosed with OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). My sleep study said I had stopped breathing more than 80 times in a minute! That was considered very severe.

I had my A1C checked and was gradually moving towards a number of 7 which meant I would have to go from pills to insulin shots to control it. I also had edema (water retention) in which I needed hydrochlorothyazide to control it. I had high blood pressure with meds.

I lost about 45 pounds pre-surgery due to the liquid diet they have you do to shrink your liver. If your liver is too large it will interfere with the surgery and make it much harder if not impossible to do. I’ve since lost another 15 pounds in two weeks since the surgery.

I take my blood pressure daily and it is now normal. I check my blood sugar and that is normal. I take naps in the afternoon after exercising and have been told I do not snore any more. All this only 2 weeks post-op!

Please check into the surgery and ask if it right for you. You will be glad you did. The journey is hard and it’s not a magic bullet. You will struggle and question your decision but you must persevere! It’s well worth it.

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