After obesity surgery, more patients returning for another

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In this Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 photo, Dr. Neil Floch, second from left, performs gastric bypass surgery laparoscopically, using monitors to guide him at Nuvance Health's hospital in Norwalk, Conn. Obesity surgery is becoming a more common way to lose weight, and so is the likelihood of patients getting a second surgery. In 2019, an estimated 15% of all obesity surgeries in the U.S. came after a previous procedure, up from 6% in 2011, according to a surgeons' group. (AP Photo/Kathy Young)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – As more Americans turn to surgery to lose weight, more of them are also returning for a second operation because the first isn't working.

Last year, an estimated 15% of the 252,000 obesity surgeries in the U.S. came after a previous surgery. That compares to 6% of the 158,000 surgeries in 2011, according to a surgeons' group.

Weight loss surgery has proven to be an effective way to treat obesity and related conditions like diabetes. Methods vary, but the operations generally shrink the stomach to limit how much people can eat without feeling sick.

Many people achieve significant weight loss but results aren't assured: It's still possible to overeat, restrictive devices can slip and stomachs can stretch back out and patients can regain weight over time.

That was the case for Kerrie Dutton, who had her first surgery four years ago.

At first, Dutton said she couldn't eat much without feeling sick, as expected. She quickly dropped about 100 of her 320 pounds. Then gradually, her stomach started stretching, and she was able to eat more again.

“Going into the second year, I noticed that my weight was creeping up pretty quick,” said the 29-year-old Dutton, who lives on New York's Long Island.

Dutton's first operation was a newer procedure that cuts away part of the stomach and leaves a narrow sleevelike pouch. In October, she ended up converting to a more established surgery that reduces the stomach substantially more.