According to the results of a new study, bariatric surgery may not only lead to improved health through weight loss and a better metabolic profile, but it may also improve nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in patients. The senior author of the study, Michel Murr, MD, professor of surgery and director of Tampa General Hospital and University of South Florida Health Bariatric Center, says that what they discovered in the study surprised the study’s researchers.
The study says that bariatric surgery helped to reduce fat deposits in the liver and also help resolve inflammation in the liver and also reversed early-stage liver fibrosis as well as scarring. Dr. Murr and the study’s researchers believe that their findings suggest that weight loss surgery should be considered a treatment option for those with patients with a BMI of more than 35 with other co-morbidities or a BMI of over 40.
The study was presented at Digestive Disease Week. Dr. Murr and his study’s researchers say that the current obesity epidemic is dramatic and that 1 in 3 Americans is obese. Dr. Murr says that bariatric surgery already has been proven to improve health conditions related to obesity, however he says their study is building on that trend and looking at its effect on NAFLD.
About the Study
The study looked at biopsy specimens of 152 patients with 82% of those studied being women with an average age of 46 years old. Their patterns were taken both before surgery and again on average 29 months following surgery. The average BMI for the patients was 52 with the average excess body weight loss at 62%. Majority of the patients had gastric bypass bariatric surgery. The patients identified these patients with cellular-level manifestations of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease on a preoperative biopsy.
The study’s researchers found that reversal of fibrosis only occurred in early-stage, not in later stages. They also believe that the underlying reason for these improvements is related to the weight loss that said patients achieved following weight loss surgery. This shows a direct correlation of weight loss and lessened symptoms of NAFLD.
Dr. Murr and his researchers have a lot of laboratory research relating weight loss, fatty liver and surgical weight loss in small animals. They found that the critical part is the intervention done in order to reduce the liver inflammation, which directly affects weight loss. After this change occurs, they found that the liver becomes an organ that stores fat to one that burn fats well following bariatric surgery.
The study’s results are especially important for those who have had a low success rate with traditional interventions, diet and exercise or medications. They believe that bariatric surgery can dramatically impact the prognosis of both NAFLD and the history of the disease.
The future of the disease will include molecular fingerprinting where there will be a few genes of interest that will help medical professionals understand which are turned off or on and which affect liver fibrosis progression in the body.