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Weight-loss surgery is safe and effective: Can reverse metabolic syndrome

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Bariatric surgery is safer and more effective for producing dramatic weight loss than ever, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

Research analysis of 150 different studies on weight-loss surgeries indicates that bariatric procedures produce rapid weight loss and improve metabolic syndrome better than diet or exercise. What's more, the death rates associated with these operations have plummeted dramatically from years ago.

"Weight-loss surgery provides substantial effects on weight loss and improves obesity-related conditions in the majority of bariatric patients, although risks of complication, re-operation, and [death] exist," said Dr. Su-Hsin Chang. "Death rates are, in general, very low."

Dr. Chang and her colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine analyzed studies assessing over 161,000 morbidly obese patients who underwent gastric-bypass surgery, gastric banding, and sleeve gastrectomy.

They concluded that while there are risks associated with bariatric surgery, the benefits outweigh the risks for morbidly obese people who've tried everything else to lose weight.

The new report on the safety and effectiveness of weight-loss surgeries comes shortly after news surfaced that bariatric procedures are more popular than ever, thanks to celebrities like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (who has lost over 70 pounds); comedian Lisa Lampanelli (106 pounds lost); and chef Graham Elliot (who has shed 128 pounds).

Weight-loss surgery is increasingly being touted not only for helping people lost weight, but for reversing type 2 diabetes and reducing the risk of heart disease.

These health benefits are helping once-skeptical primary care physicians embrace bariatric surgery as a means for the morbidly obese to improve their overall health, and not just as a quick weight-loss fix.

"We're seeing more primary care doctors that truly understand the power of these operations," said bariatric surgeon Dr. Alan Wittgrove. "I think society in general understands that this is the best treatment for metabolic syndrome."

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