Rehabilitation needs after bariatric surgery

J. Faintuch, S. A F Souza, S. M. Fabris, I. Cecconello, P. Capodaglio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Bariatric surgery has grown from an obscure experimental procedure to one of the most popular operations in the world. Such accelerated progress left many gaps, notably concerning subsequent rehabilitation needs of this population. Aim. In the present study, a brief description of both the patients and the interventions is provided, along with potentially disabling features especially concerning the locomotor system, which has received comparatively little attention . Design. Based on reported protocols and actual experience, major issues are addressed. Setting. Bariatric patients are initially managed in the hospital, however long-term and even lifetime needs may be recognized, requiring major lifestyle and physical activity changes. These have to be focused in all settings, inside and outside the healthcare institutions. Population. Initially only adults were considered bariatric candidates, however currently also adolescents and the elderly are admitted in many centers. Results. Bariatric weight loss is certainly successful for remission or prevention of metabolic, cardiovascular and cancer comorbidities. Yet benefits for bones, joints and muscles, along with general physical performance arc still incompletely established. This should be no reason for denying continued care to such individuals, within the context of well-designed protocols, as available evidence points toward favorable rehabilitation in the realms of physical, social and workplace activities. Conclusion. The importance of a physiatric curriculum in medical schools has been emphasized. Even more crucial is the presence of such a specialists in obesity and bariatric teams, a requirement recognized in a few countries but not in others. Clinical Rehabilitation Impact. The relevance of obesity as a disabling condition is reviewed, along with the positive changes induced by surgical weight loss. Although obesity alleviation is a legitimate end-point it is not a sufficient one. The shortcomings of such result from the point of view of physical normalization are outlined, and recommendations are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-437
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Bariatric surgery
  • Disability
  • Obesity
  • Rehabilitation
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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