Bariatric Surgery Could Improve Outcomes for Obese Individuals with NAFLD

Bariatric surgery refers to surgical procedures that can help people with obesity to lose weight when other means have not worked. This type of surgery can help people to live a longer lifespan and can reduce many symptoms associated with obesity. But is it also successful in helping individuals with obesity and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition in which excess fat accumulates in the liver? 

As reported by Healio, there have previously been few studies that focused on how bariatric surgery has or might affect people with NAFLD. So researchers decided to perform a study and evaluate its effects. In the study, published in JAMA Network Open, the research team looked at health outcomes from 4,687 people who hadn’t had bariatric surgery and 4,687 who had. In particular, the researchers wanted to understand whether bariatric surgery changed the risk of cardiovascular issues or death. A majority of data was sourced from females. 

The study found that bariatric surgery reduced the risk of heart failure, coronary artery issues, and cerebrovascular issues. Additionally, this surgical intervention also reduced the risk of death. This study does present some interesting findings. But researchers do caution that more insight and studies are needed to replicate these findings and determine if they are accurate. 

Key Facts about NAFLD

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when excess fat – not due to drinking – accumulates in the liver. NAFLD is actually an umbrella term; it can be broken up into simple fatty liver and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Risk factors include older age, an underactive thyroid or pituitary gland, polycystic ovary syndrome, high levels of blood sugar or fat, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, among others. However, there is still a limited understanding of the exact cause of NAFLD. 

In some cases, people with NAFLD may have no symptoms at all. If symptoms do appear, or if someone’s condition progresses to include NASH (which is more aggressive), these may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Upper right abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention
  • Enlarged spleen and blood vessels
  • Reddened palms
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes)
  • Cirrhosis (complication)
  • Liver cancer (complication)
  • Cardiovascular disease (complication)

The best way to manage NAFLD is through healthy lifestyle changes, such as dietary improvements and exercise, and weight loss. However, liver transplantation may be needed if your liver has cirrhosis (scarring and damage).

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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