Handling of the Covid-19 Pandemic and Its Effects on Bariatric Surgical Practice: Analysis of GENEVA Study Database

Obes Surg. 2022 Dec;32(12):3908-3921. doi: 10.1007/s11695-022-06267-7. Epub 2022 Oct 25.


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to a worldwide suspension of bariatric and metabolic surgery (BMS) services. The current study analyses data on patterns of service delivery, recovery of practices, and protective measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic by bariatric teams.

Materials and methods: The current study is a subset analysis of the GENEVA study which was an international cohort study between 01/05/2020 and 31/10/2020. Data were specifically analysed regarding the timing of BMS suspension, patterns of service recovery, and precautionary measures deployed.

Results: A total of 527 surgeons from 439 hospitals in 64 countries submitted data regarding their practices and handling of the pandemic. Smaller hospitals (with less than 200 beds) were able to restart BMS programmes more rapidly (time to BMS restart 60.8 ± 38.9 days) than larger institutions (over 2000 beds) (81.3 ± 30.5 days) (p = 0.032). There was a significant difference in the time interval between cessation/reduction and restart of bariatric services between government-funded practices (97.1 ± 76.2 days), combination practices (84.4 ± 47.9 days), and private practices (58.5 ± 38.3 days) (p < 0.001). Precautionary measures adopted included patient segregation, utilisation of personal protective equipment, and preoperative testing. Following service recovery, 40% of the surgeons operated with a reduced capacity. Twenty-two percent gave priority to long waiters, 15.4% gave priority to uncontrolled diabetics, and 7.6% prioritised patients requiring organ transplantation.

Conclusion: This study provides global, real-world data regarding the recovery of BMS services following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; COVID-19; GENEVA; Global health; Pandemic; Public health; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Bariatrics*
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid* / surgery
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires