Weight Loss Surgery May Increase Risk Of Suicide, Self-Harm

First Posted: Oct 07, 2015 07:33 PM EDT

For some patients who are obese, weight-loss surgery, otherwise known as bariatric surgery, that completely transform patients' lives into a more healthy and productive way of living. However, a new study suggests that it may also increase the risk of self-harm or even suicide in some. The findings are published in JAMA Surgery.

Previous studies suggest that therapy both before and after surgery may help some morbidly obese patients dealing with depression or other weight-related issues make a smooth transition following the procedure.

In this recent study, 8,815 patients were involved in who lived in Ontario, Canada, over a three-year period--all of whom had undergone bariatric surgery between 2006 and 2011. Roughly one percent of the patients received emergency care for self-inflicted injuries during the first three years following bariatric surgery. From the sample, 81.4 percent were women, 80.1 percent were 35 years or older and 98.1 percent were treated via gastric bypass, according to UPI.

Researchers found that the incidents of self-inflicted harm happened one to three years after the surgeries occurred. During the follow-up period, 111 patients had 158 self-harm emergencies and these emergencies were 1.5 times more likely to occur following the surgery. Issues with self-harm were also more common among those living in rural areas, older than 35 and with a low-income status.

"Even if you remove the burden of weight, you don't remove the burden of disease," said Dr. John M. Morton, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, via the Los Angeles Times. "Some of the psychological issues might still be there."

Health officials are hopeful that the findings may prompt better follow-up care for patients who have undergone bariatric surgery.

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