Weight Loss Surgery May Help With Urinary Incontinence for Male and Female Patients

A new study suggests that bariatric surgery procedures may help ease urinary incontinence symptoms in both men and women. Obesity is the major risk factor associated with urinary incontinence, a medical condition that causes individuals to leak urine. Weight loss surgery helps obese people to lose weight, which in turn helps with bladder control.

The study from the University of California, San Francisco found that there were benefits with this condition for up to 3 years following weight loss surgery. “Our findings showing another important long-term benefit to bariatric surgery might help to motivate people who are severely overweight,” study first author Dr. Leslee Subak said in a university news release.

Approximately 30 million adults in America experience urinary incontinence, the study reports. According to the study’s authors, the condition can reduce the quality of life. “Research has previously shown that weight loss by several methods — low-calorie diet, behavioral weight reduction, and bariatric surgery — were all associated with improved incontinence in overweight people through the first year,” Subak said. But before this, there hasn’t been evidence of the longer-term effects, she noted.

The study looked at 2,500 patients between the ages of 18 and 78 who all had weight loss surgery between 2005 and 2009. These surgeries occurred at 10 different hospitals across the United States. 79% of the participants in the study were women. Nearly half of the women and one-fifth of the men admitted to having an episode of incontinence at least once weekly before surgery.

Dramatic improvements in bladder control occurred for most of the study’s participants, but especially those with 29% of body weight loss for women and 26% for women after just three years following their surgery. The study found that the greater the weight loss, the greater the odds of improvements to occur. Less progress was felt by older participants as they didn’t lose weight at the same rate as younger patients studied. Ultimately better urinary control results from less pressure on the bladder and the pelvic floor.

Nearly 80% of the patients studied completed follow-up assessment for the study’s authors. The results of this study were published online at JAMA Internal Medicine journal. The study’s authors understand that some patients may have over or underestimated their bladder difficulties to researchers.

Addressing urinary incontinence issues is important for quality of life and bariatric surgery seems like a viable option for obese patients experiencing these symptoms. Weight loss surgery improves overall health, reduces comorbidities such as diabetes, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea and reduces overall weight, all while reducing symptoms of various conditions such as urinary incontinence.

Source: NIH