Obesity surgery sees growing demand in UK


Obesity surgery involving hip or knee replacement has increased by 575% in the last nine years in the UK, according to a report by The Sunday Times.

The investigation found that joint replacement surgery in obese patients rose from 6,191 in 2009-2010 to 41,761 in 2017-2018.

Not only does this means that this kind of obesity surgery is now costing the NHS £200 million a year, it also clearly shows rapid growth in what is already known as ‘the obesity epidemic’.

In fact, ill health caused by obesity now takes a staggering £6 billion from the annual NHS budget, a figure that may look like a mere drop in the ocean if the number of obese people keeps increasing with such rapidity.

Needless to say, the main way to reduce the demand for obesity-related orthopaedic procedures is to foster a culture of healthy eating and physical fitness in the UK.

However, for those struggling with obesity, a surgical solution may already be necessary. So is there a way that surgery could actually reduce the need for hip and knee replacements?

An alternative obesity surgery solution

According to bariatric surgeons speaking at an international conference in 2017 in London, the cost of obesity-related knee and hip replacement could be significantly reduced by helping patients lose weight through stomach-shrinking surgery.

Typically costing just a third of what a knee replacement costs, bariatric surgery can help prevent a host of illnesses relating to ongoing obesity. These can include joint problems through to type 2 diabetes, which can lead to blindness, amputations, heart attacks and strokes.

Clearly, the cost of these resulting health issues will place a huge financial burden on the NHS. However, according to an article in The Guardian, we only carry out 5000 obesity operations per year in the UK compared to 37,000 in France, which has a population similar to that of Britain.

What’s more, results of a freedom of information request by the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society and the Royal College of Surgeons revealed that weight loss surgery was being rationed in parts of the NHS, with some surgeons saying their patients had become sicker during the long wait for an operation.

If you are concerned about the obesity epidemic in the UK and what measures are being taken to tackle it, you can find out a lot of information on the National Obesity Forum website.

You can also click here to visit our blog for news on obesity surgery and other surgical disciplines.