Research shows that obesity and waist circumference are predictors of low testosterone levels in men, which can be confirmed by checking blood levels. Low testosterone in men has been associated with many health concerns including increased estrogen, increased risk of cardiac events, increased risk of muscle loss, low energy, depressed mood, low libido, and erectile dysfunction. Diagnosing and correcting low testosterone in men can have far reaching effects in improving their overall health.
A small study performed by surgeons from Stanford University in California investigated the effects of sleeve gastrectomy (also called gastric sleeve surgery) weight loss surgery on obese men with low levels of testosterone. Prior to the bariatric surgery, the men had an average BMI of 46, and 63% had low testosterone levels. Blood levels of serum testosterone, DHEA, and PSA were tested prior to surgery and at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery. By 12 months after sleeve gastrectomy surgery, the average BMI had dropped considerably to 31 and the percentage of men with low testosterone also dropped to 41%. By the 12 month mark, average testosterone levels increased from 295 ng/dL to 423 ng/dL (normal levels being above 300 ng/dL).
Study coauthor John Morton, MD, MPH, FACS, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, concluded that “the take home message is that if you are an obese man with low testosterone your therapy should be weight loss not testosterone replacement, and a successful way to achieve meaningful weight loss is through a bariatric operation.” Dr. Morton continued, “this is a unique and beneficial finding for sleeve gastrectomy hasn’t been studied before, demonstrating for the first time, that testosterone levels are improved in a group of obese male patients following sleeve gastrectomy.”
While the study was small, and therefore not conclusive, it did demonstrate that sleeve gastrectomy surgery can have a positive impact on both reducing BMI and helping to improve testosterone levels. The study authors state that they chose to look at sleeve gastrectomy surgery as it is a shorter, lower risk procedure than gastric bypass, and has replaced gastric bypass as the gold standard in bariatric weight loss surgery. The operation removes nearly 75% of the stomach, leaving a small stomach sleeve roughly the size of a banana. This reduced stomach size leads to patients feeling fuller from less food, usually resulting in weight loss. Candidates for this procedure are patients with a BMI over 35 with a comorbid condition, or those with a BMI over 40. As 80% of patients opting for weight loss surgery are women, men may be missing a large opportunity for improving their weight and overall health.
If you or a loved one is struggling with weight and low testosterone levels, consider consulting a bariatric surgeon to discuss your options. Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., is a board certified general surgeon specializing in sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable lap band, and gastric bypass weight loss surgeries. His patients come from all over South Florida, including Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and as far north as Jacksonville. Dr. Shillingford offers free informational sessions for those interested in gastric sleeve, lap band, or gastric bypass procedures. Call his Boca Raton office at (561)430-8840 to schedule your informational session today.