HealthDay News — Surgical skill does not appear to affect postoperative weight loss or resolution of medical conditions at one year after laparoscopic gastric bypass, according to a study published online April 13 in JAMA Surgery.

The new study was led by Christopher Scally, MD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and included 3,631 patients. The patients underwent bariatric surgery performed by one of 20 different surgeons. Each surgeon’s individual skill level was assessed by experts who viewed videos of the surgeons as they performed the procedures. Surgeons ranked in both the highest and lowest levels had been practicing an average of 11 years.

One year after surgery, there were no differences in weight loss between patients whose procedure was performed by the top- or the lowest-ranked surgeons. Also, there were no differences in patients’ improvements in other health issues such as sleep apnea, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia. In fact, patients of the lowest-ranked surgeons actually had higher rates of improvement in diabetes than those of the highest-ranked surgeons, at 78.8 percent versus 72.8%.

“Although surgical skill may influence short-term complication rates and patient satisfaction ratings, these findings suggest that long-term outcomes after bariatric surgery may be more dependent on other factors not yet measured among patients, hospitals, or surgeons,” Scally and colleagues write.

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