Learning Curves of Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy in Bariatric Surgery: a Systematic Review and Introduction of a Standardization

F. S. Wehrtmann, J. R. de la Garza, K. F. Kowalewski, M. W. Schmidt, K. Müller, C. Tapking, P. Probst, M. K. Diener, L. Fischer, B. P. Müller-Stich, F. Nickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: The most commonly performed bariatric procedures are laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) and sleeve gastrectomy (LSG). Impact of learning curves on operative outcome has been well shown, but the necessary learning curves have not been clearly defined. This study provides a systematic review of the literature and proposes a standardization of phases of learning curves for RYGB and LSG. Methods: A systematic literature search was performed using PubMed, Web of Science, and CENTRAL databases. All studies specifying a number or range of approaches to characterize the learning curve for RYGB and LSG were selected. Results: A total of 28 publications related to learning curves for 27,770 performed bariatric surgeries were included. Parameters used to determine the learning curve were operative time, complications, conversions, length of stay, and blood loss. Learning curve range was 30–500 (RYGB) and 30–200 operations (LSG) according to different definitions and respective phases of learning curves. Learning phases described the number of procedures necessary to achieve predefined skill levels, such as competency, proficiency, and mastery. Conclusions: Definitions of learning curves for bariatric surgery are heterogeneous. Introduction of the three skill phases competency, proficiency, and mastery is proposed to provide a standardized definition using multiple outcome variables to enable better comparison in the future. These levels are reached after 30–70, 70–150, and up to 500 RYGB, and after 30–50, 60–100, and 100–200 LSG. Training curricula, previous laparoscopic experience, and high procedure volume are hallmarks for successful outcomes during the learning curve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)640-656
Number of pages17
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Competency
  • Laparoscopy
  • Learning curve
  • Mastery
  • Obesity surgery
  • Proficiency
  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass
  • Sleeve gastrectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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