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Be Well

Weight loss surgery no safer at centers of excellence, study finds

In 2006, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services limited insurance coverage of weight loss surgery to hospitals considered centers of excellence. Now a study finds there is no significant difference between centers of excellence and other hospitals in the rate and severity of surgery-related complications and the need for repeat surgeries.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Weill Cornell Medical College in New York looked at data on more than 20,000 Medicare patients who underwent bariatric surgery between 2004 and 2009, before and after the policy. Researchers then compared the data to outcomes for more than 200,000 non-Medicare patients. They found that complications from surgery declined similarly in both groups.

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The findings suggest that a shift from open to laparoscopic surgery, which is considered less risky, rather than the Medicare centers-of-excellence policy, explained the drop, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Weight loss surgery patients are no less likely to suffer surgical complications at a center of excellence than at another hospital.

CAUTIONS: The study did not look at long-term complications or whether patients who underwent their procedure at a center of excellence were more likely to maintain their weight loss.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the American Medical Association, Feb. 27

Bacteria strains linked to risk of acne

Certain strains of bacteria deep in pores may make skin more prone to acne while another strain may be protective, according to a new study. Researchers at UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute looked at bacteria known as propionibacterium acnes, which cause pimples.

The researchers examined bacteria from the noses of 49 participants with acne-prone skin and 50 participants with clear skin. They found that 20 percent of the participants with acne had two strains of the bacteria that the clear-skinned participants did not have. They also identified a third strain that was more commonly found in participants with clear skin.

Their findings suggest that the latter strain might offer protection against pimples, according to the researchers. With additional research, treatments such as creams using the so-called protective strain of the bacteria may become an effective way to prevent and treat acne, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Certain strains of bacteria in pores may make skin more prone to acne or protect against it.

CAUTIONS: The study was small and found an association between the strains of bacteria and chances of acne, but does not prove that having a certain strain causes or prevents acne.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Feb. 28

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