Safety of Bariatric Surgery in ≥ 65-Year-Old Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Obes Surg. 2022 Jul;32(7):1-13. doi: 10.1007/s11695-022-06067-z. Epub 2022 May 5.


Background: Age ≥ 65 years is regarded as a relative contraindication for bariatric surgery. Advanced age is also a recognised risk factor for adverse outcomes with Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) which continues to wreak havoc on global populations. This study aimed to assess the safety of bariatric surgery (BS) in this particular age group during the COVID-19 pandemic in comparison with the younger cohort.

Methods: We conducted a prospective international study of patients who underwent BS between 1/05/2020 and 31/10/2020. Patients were divided into two groups - patients ≥ 65-years-old (Group I) and patients < 65-years-old (Group II). The two groups were compared for 30-day morbidity and mortality.

Results: There were 149 patients in Group 1 and 6923 patients in Group II. The mean age, preoperative weight, and BMI were 67.6 ± 2.5 years, 119.5 ± 24.5 kg, and 43 ± 7 in Group I and 39.8 ± 11.3 years, 117.7±20.4 kg, and 43.7 ± 7 in Group II, respectively. Approximately, 95% of patients in Group 1 had at least one co-morbidity compared to 68% of patients in Group 2 (p = < 0.001). The 30-day morbidity was significantly higher in Group I (11.4%) compared to Group II (6.6%) (p = 0.022). However, the 30-day mortality and COVID-19 infection rates were not significantly different between the two groups.

Conclusions: Bariatric surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with a higher complication rate in those ≥ 65 years of age compared to those < 65 years old. However, the mortality and postoperative COVID-19 infection rates are not significantly different between the two groups.

Keywords: Metabolic surgery; Obesity; Older patients; Resuming elective surgery; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bariatric Surgery* / adverse effects
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid* / surgery
  • Pandemics
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Prospective Studies