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By: Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT on January 25th, 2016

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How Does Bariatric Surgery Affect Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Disorders | Sleep Medicine


Learn how bariatric surgery can affect sleep apnea  

How does bariatric surgery affect obstructive sleep apnea? These two seemingly unrelated topics actually have much in common. 

Bariatric surgical procedures are conducted to cause weight loss by restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold, which causes malabsorption of nutrients or a combination of both gastric restriction and malabsoption. There are several bariatric surgery procedures, some of the more common ones being gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band, and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. 

So how is a weight loss procedure related to sleep?

Turns out, many of the patients who either undergo or are recommended bariatric surgery are also patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  OSA, as you already know can be treatable using the methods we discuss in this article or through surgery.  According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery and the weight loss it produces actually results in improvements in various parameters of OSA.

The impact of bariatric surgery on obstructive sleep apnea

In 2013, in a study published in Obesity Surgery Journal, there is a strong correlation between obesity and the development of OSA (surprise!).  Therefore, bariatric surgery has been touted as one of the most effective options for treating obesity and its comorbidities (like OSA).  To review whether bariatric surgery is an effective method of treatment, researchers conducted a systematic review of all the available bariatric procedures to see which procedures were the most effective in treating OSA.

The conclusion? Bariatric surgery has a profound impact on treating OSA

A total of 69 studies with 13,900 patients were included and revealed that all the procedures achieved profound effects on OSA, as over 75 % of patients saw at least an improvement in their sleep apnea.  Biliary Pancreatic Diversion (BPD) was the most successful procedure in improving or resolving OSA, with laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding being the least effective.  In other words, bariatric surgery is a definitive treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, regardless of the specific type.

Want to learn more about bariatric surgery and its relationship to how we sleep? 

Check out this CEC eligible Journal Club module on bariatric surgery here.  In this online offering, Charles W. Atwood Jr, MD, FCCP, FAASM discusses the results of the LABS-2 study of bariatric surgery patients.  He also assesses the accuracy of the Berlin in identifying patients in this population at risk for sleep apnea, appropriate precautions and outcomes and speculates on the value of out of center sleep testing in this group and details what additional research would be valuable.

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About Kevin Asp, CRT, RPSGT

Because of the implementation of his best practices of Implementing Inbound Marketing in its Medical Practice, he turned the once stagnant online presence of Alaska Sleep Clinic to that of "The Most Trafficked Sleep Center Website in the World" in just 18 months time. He is the President and CEO of inboundMed and enjoys helping sleep centers across the globe grow their business through his unique vision and experience of over 27 years in sleep medicine.

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