Qualification for bariatric surgery is based upon strict medical guidelines, but individual insurance companies may introduce additional requirements for approval and coverage as they deem necessary. A mandatory preoperative medical weight loss management (MWM) program is commonly such a requirement.
The primary objective of this study is to assess the effect of MWM programs on weight loss outcomes.
A retrospective review of all sleeve gastrectomies performed between 2012 and 2016 at our institution was conducted. Patients were divided into two groups: those who required a preoperative MWM program, and those who did not. A 1:1 greedy nearest-neighbor method matching algorithm was used to match patients based on age, BMI, smoking, gender, race, sleep apnea, and diabetes. Total weight loss and percent excess weight loss at 1 year for each group were compared.
A total of 3059 sleeve gastrectomy patients were reviewed. Of these, 941 patients had adequate data points to be evaluated. The matching algorithm resulted in 530 patients for the final analysis, 265 patients in each group. There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of age, BMI, smoking, gender, race, sleep apnea, or diabetes. A paired t test found no significant differences between the MWM group and the control group at 1 year in both total weight loss (36.7 kg vs 36.2 kg) and in percent excess weight loss (56.5% vs 55.8%, p = 0.24).
There was no significant difference in weight loss outcomes after 1 year in patients required by insurance to participate in MWM programs compared to those who were not. The necessity of these programs should be questioned.