Weight Loss Surgery May Help With Urinary Incontinence for Male and Female Patients

A new study suggests that bariatric surgery procedures may help ease urinary incontinence symptoms in both men and women. Obesity is one of the major risk factors associated with urinary incontinence, a medical condition that causes individuals to leak urine. Bariatric surgery assists individuals that are considered obese to lose weight, which in turn helps with bladder control.

Urinary Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence (UI) is a lack of bladder control and leakage of urine. This may occur when there is a sudden burst of pressure in the bladder and the sphincter muscles are unable to control the passing of urine initiated by the pressure. An unexpected pressure in your bladder may be induced by laughter, sneezing, coughing, or even exercising. There are four types of urinary incontinence:

  • Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
  • Overactive Bladder (OAB)
  • Mixed Incontinence (SUI and OAB)
  • Overflow Incontinence

This condition is frequently experienced by older adults, women who have given birth, women who have gone through menopause, and those that are considered obese. Overweight individuals experience UI due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and the pressure on their bladders caused by high amounts of fatty tissues.

Research Study

A study from the University of California, San Francisco found that there were benefits that improved this condition following weight loss surgery. An outcome of bariatric surgery includes lowering the amount of fatty tissue in the body, which in turn will help to relieve pressure on the bladder.

The study looked at 2,500 patients between the ages of 18 and 78 who all had weight loss surgery between 2005 and 2009. These surgeries occurred at 10 different hospitals across the United States. 79% of the participants in the study were women. Nearly half of the women and one-fifth of the men admitted to having an episode of incontinence at least once weekly before surgery.

Dramatic improvements in bladder control occurred for most of the study’s participants, but especially those with 29% of body weight loss for women and 26% for women after just three years following their surgery. The study found that the greater the weight loss, the greater the odds of improvements to occur. Less progress was felt by older participants as they didn’t lose weight at the same rate as younger patients studied. Ultimately better urinary control results from less pressure on the bladder and the pelvic floor.

Nearly 80% of the patients studied completed follow-up assessments for the study’s authors. The results of this study were published online in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal. The study’s authors understand that some patients may have over or underestimated their bladder difficulties to researchers.


Addressing urinary incontinence issues is crucial for improving the quality of life; bariatric surgery is a viable option for obese individuals experiencing symptoms of UI. Weight loss surgery improves overall health, lowers the effects of comorbidities such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea by reducing the percentage of body fat in patients.

Two-hundred million people are affected by urinary incontinence worldwide.[1] Urinary incontinence negatively affects the quality of life in individuals who experience this condition. Research has shown that weight loss helps to improve chronic illnesses, quality of life, and mental health.