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Am J Surg. 2002 Aug;184(2):103-13.

Obesity and its surgical management.

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  • 1VAMC Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, UCLA Bariatric Surgery Program, Box 95-6904, UCLA School of Medicine, 90095-6904, USA.


Obesity is increasing in epidemic proportions world-wide. Even mild degrees of obesity have adverse health effects and are associated with diminished longevity. For this reason aggressive dietary intervention is recommended. Patients with body mass indices exceeding 40 have medically significant obesity in which the risk of serious health consequences is substantial, with concomitant significant reductions in life expectancy. For these patients, sustained weight loss rarely occurs with dietary intervention. For the appropriately selected patients, surgery is beneficial. Various operations have been proposed for the treatment of obesity, many of which proved to have serious complications precluding their efficacy. A National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel reviewed the indications and types of operations, concluding that the banded gastroplasty and gastric bypass were acceptable operations for treating seriously obese patients. Surgical treatment is associated with sustained weight loss for seriously obese patients who uniformly fail nonsurgical treatment. Following weight loss there is a high cure rate for diabetes and sleep apnea, with significant improvement in other complications of obesity such as hypertension and osteoarthritis.

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