Background

Bariatric surgery is considered the most efficacious treatment for severe obesity. Chronic pain (CP) represents a potentially important influence on postoperative outcome. Relative to people in the normal weight category, recurrent pain is 136% higher for people with Class II obesity and 254% greater for Class III obesity.The current study examined early treatment outcomes for bariatric surgery patients with and without presurgical CP.

Methods

261 bariatric patients were dichotomized after examination of the medical record’s diagnoses for the presence of at least 1 CP syndrome: CP(CP+; n = 220) and no CP(CP-; n = 41). In the CP+ group, 72% were females, 64% Caucasian, 18% African American, and 18% identified as other ethnicities with mean age of 47.13 years (SD = 11.18) and mean BMI of 50.38 kg/m2 (SD = 9.95). In the CP- group, 66% were females, 61% Caucasian, 18% African American, and 21% identified as other ethnicities with mean age of 42.02 years (SD = 11.51) and mean BMI 50.50 kg/ m2 (SD = 9.25). T-test analyses revealed a significant group difference for age (t = -2.67, p=.01). The primary outcome was 1- and 3-month % excess weight loss. Secondary 1- and 3-month postoperative outcomes included whether or not the patient experienced any of 19 medical or 21 psychological complications.

Results

After controlling for preoperative age, a MANCOVA indicated no significant mean differences in 1-month postoperative psychological (F (2, 257) = 2.56, p = 0.11) or medical complications (F (2, 257) = 2.83, p = 0.09) or % excess weight loss (F (1, 249) = 0.75, p = .39) between the groups. A MANCOVA indicated no significant mean differences in 3-month postoperative psychological (F (2, 156) = 0.01, p = 0.91) or medical complications (F (2, 156) = 0.45, p = 0.51) or % excess weight loss (F (1, 140) = 0.28, p = 0.60) between the groups.

Conclusions

Bariatric surgery appears to be an effective treatment intervention in the short-term for patients who have CP, to a degree comparable to patients without CP.