Effect of new persistent opioid use on physiologic and psychologic outcomes following bariatric surgery

Surg Endosc. 2019 Aug;33(8):2649-2656. doi: 10.1007/s00464-018-6542-0. Epub 2018 Oct 23.


Introduction: New persistent opioid use following surgery is a common iatrogenic complication, developing in roughly 6% of patients after elective surgery. Despite increased awareness of misuse and associated morbidity, opioids remain the cornerstone of pain management in bariatric surgery. The potential impact of new persistent opioid use on long-term postoperative outcomes is unknown. We sought to determine the relationship between new persistent opioid use and 1-year postoperative outcomes for patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Methods: Using data from the MBSC registry, we identified patients undergoing primary bariatric surgery between 2006 and 2016. Using previously validated patient-reported survey methodology, we evaluated patient opioid use preoperatively and at 1 year following surgery. New persistent use was defined as a previously opioid-naïve patient who self-reported opioid use 1 year after surgery. We used multivariable logistic regression models to evaluate the association between new persistent opioid use, risk-adjusted weight loss, and psychologic outcomes (psychological wellbeing, body image, and depression).

Results: 27,799 patients underwent primary bariatric surgery between 2006 and 2016. Among opioid-naïve patients, the rate of new persistent opioid use was 6.3%. At 1-year after surgery, patients with new persistent opioid user lost significantly less excess body weight compared to those without new persistent use (57.6% vs. 60.3%; p < 0.0001). Patients with new persistent opioid use had significantly worse psychological wellbeing (35.0 vs. 33.1; p < 0.0001), body image (19.9 vs. 18.0; p < 0.0001), and depression scores (2.4 vs. 5.0; p < 0.0001). New persistent opioid users also reported less overall satisfaction with their bariatric surgery (75.1% vs. 85.7%; p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: New persistent opioid use is common following bariatric surgery and associated with significantly worse physiologic and psychologic outcomes. More effective screening and postoperative surveillance tools are needed to identify these patients, who likely require more aggressive counseling and treatment to maximize the benefits of bariatric surgery.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; New persistent opioid use; Opioid; Outcomes; Patient reported.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Bariatric Surgery* / adverse effects
  • Body Image
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / physiopathology
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / etiology*
  • Pain Management
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Registries
  • Weight Loss


  • Analgesics, Opioid