Urinary incontinence before and after bariatric surgery

Leslee L. Subak, Wendy C. King, Steven H. Belle, Jia Yuh Chen, Anita P. Courcoulas, Faith E. Ebel, David R. Flum, Saurabh Khandelwal, John R. Pender, Sheila K. Pierson, Walter J. Pories, Kristine J. Steffen, Gladys W. Strain, Bruce M. Wolfe, Alison J. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE Among women and men with severe obesity, evidence for improvement in urinary incontinence beyond the first year after bariatric surgery-induced weight loss is lacking. OBJECTIVES To examine change in urinary incontinence before and after bariatric surgery and to identify factors associated with improvement and remission among women and men in the first 3 years after bariatric surgery. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS The Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery 2 is an observational cohort study at 10 US hospitals in 6 geographically diverse clinical centers. Participants were recruited between February 21, 2005, and February 17, 2009. Adults undergoing first-time bariatric surgical procedures as part of clinical care by participating surgeons between March 14, 2006, and April 24, 2009, were followed up for 3 years (through October 24, 2012). INTERVENTION Participants undergoing bariatric surgery completed research assessments before the procedure and annually thereafter. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The frequency and type of urinary incontinence episodes in the past 3 months were assessed using a validated questionnaire. Prevalent urinary incontinence was defined as at least weekly urinary incontinence episodes, and remission was defined as change from prevalent urinary incontinence at baseline to less than weekly urinary incontinence episodes at follow-up. RESULTS Of 2458 participants, 1987 (80.8%) completed baseline and follow-up assessments. At baseline, the median age was 47 years (age range, 18-78 years), the median body mass index was 46 kg/m2 (range, 34-94 kg/m2), and 1565 of 1987 (78.8%) were women. Urinary incontinence was more prevalent among women (49.3%; 95% CI, 46.9%-51.9%) than men (21.8%; 95% CI, 18.2%-26.1%) (P < .001). After a mean 1-year weight loss of 29.5% (95% CI, 29.0%-30.1%) in women and 27.0% (95% CI, 25.9%-28.6%) in men, year 1 urinary incontinence prevalence was significantly lower among women (18.3%; 95% CI, 16.4%-20.4%) and men (9.8%; 95% CI, 7.2%-13.4%) (P < .001 for all). The 3-year prevalence was higher than the 1-year prevalence for both sexes (24.8%; 95% CI, 21.8%-26.5% among women and 12.2%; 95% CI, 9.0%-16.4% among men) but was substantially lower than baseline (P < .001 for all). Weight loss was independently related to urinary incontinence remission (relative risk, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.06-1.10 in women and 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02-1.13 in men) per 5% weight loss, as were younger age and the absence of a severe walking limitation. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Among women and men with severe obesity, bariatric surgery was associated with substantially reduced urinary incontinence over 3 years. Improvement in urinary incontinence may be an important benefit of bariatric surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1378-1387
Number of pages10
JournalJAMA internal medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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