The aim of this study was to obtain estimates of changes in perioperative outcomes and utilization of bariatric surgery in the United States from 1993 to 2016.
Bariatric surgery has evolved over the past 2 decades. Nationally representative information on changes of perioperative outcomes and utilization of surgery in the growing eligible population (class III obesity or class II obesity with comorbidities) is lacking.
Adults with obesity diagnosis who underwent primary bariatric surgery in the United States from 1993 to 2016 were identified in the National Inpatient Sample database. Estimates of the yearly number, types and cost of surgeries, patients’ and hospital characteristics, complications and mortality rates were obtained. Prevalence of obesity and comorbidities were obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and changes in utilization of surgery were estimated.
An estimated 1,903,273 patients underwent bariatric surgery in the United States between 1993 and 2016. Mean age was 43.9 years (79.9% women, 70.9% white race, 70.7% commercial insurance); these and other characteristics changed over time. Surgeries were exclusively open operations in 1993 (n = 8,631; gastric bypass and vertical banded gastroplasty, 49% each) and 98% laparoscopic (n = 162,969; 69.8% sleeve gastrectomy and 27.8% gastric bypass) in 2016. Complication and mortality rates peaked in 1998 (11.7% and 1%) and progressively decreased to 1.4% and 0.04% in 2016. Utilization increased from 0.07% in 1993 to 0.62% in 2004 and remained low at 0.5% in 2016.
Perioperative safety of bariatric surgery improved over the last quarter-century. Despite growth in number of surgeries, utilization has only marginally increased. Addressing barriers for utilization may allow for greater access to surgical therapy.