Bariatric Surgery or Non-Surgical Weight Loss for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea? A Systematic Review and Comparison of Meta-analyses

Obes Surg. 2015 Jul;25(7):1239-50. doi: 10.1007/s11695-014-1533-2.


Background: Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a well-recognised complication of obesity. Non-surgical weight loss (medical, behavioural and lifestyle interventions) may improve OSA outcomes, although long-term weight control remains challenging. Bariatric surgery offers a successful strategy for long-term weight loss and symptom resolution.

Objectives: To comparatively appraise bariatric surgery vs. non-surgical weight loss interventions in OSA treatment utilising body mass index (BMI) and apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI) as objective measures of weight loss and apnoea severity.

Methods: A systematic literature review revealed 19 surgical (n = 525) and 20 non-surgical (n = 825) studies reporting the primary endpoints of BMI and AHI before and after intervention. Data were meta-analysed using random effects modelling. Subgroup analysis, quality scoring and risk of bias were assessed.

Results: Surgical patients had a mean pre-intervention BMI of 51.3 and achieved a significant 14 kg/m(2) weighted decrease in BMI (95%CI [11.91, 16.44]), with a 29/h weighted decrease in AHI (95%CI [22.41, 36.74]). Non-surgical patients had a mean pre-intervention BMI of 38.3 and achieved a significant weighted decrease in BMI of 3.1 kg/m(2) (95%CI [2.42, 3.79]), with a weighted decrease in AHI of 11/h (95%CI [7.81, 14.98]). Heterogeneity was high across all outcomes.

Conclusions: Both bariatric surgery and non-surgical weight loss may have significant beneficial effects on OSA through BMI and AHI reduction. However, bariatric surgery may offer markedly greater improvement in BMI and AHI than non-surgical alternatives. Future studies must address the lack of randomised controlled and comparative trials in order to confirm the exact relationship between metabolic surgery and non-surgical weight loss interventions in OSA resolution.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Obesity, Morbid / therapy*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / etiology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*