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J Natl Med Assoc. 2004 January; 96(1): 61–75.
PMCID: PMC2594758

Surgical treatment of obesity: a review.


Obesity is a chronic disease due to excess fat storage, a genetic predisposition, and strong environmental contributions. This problem is worldwide, and the incidence is increasing daily. There are medical, physical, social, economic, and psychological comorbid conditions associated with obesity. There is no cure for obesity except possibly prevention. Nonsurgical treatment has been inadequate in providing sustained weight loss. Currently, surgery offers the only viable treatment option with longterm weight loss and maintenance for the morbidly obese. Surgeries for weight loss are called bariatric surgeries. There is no one operation that is effective for all patients. Gastric bypass operations are the most common operations currently used. Because there are inherent complications from surgeries, bariatric surgeries should be performed in a multidisciplinary setting. The laparoscopic approach is being used by some surgeons in performing the various operations. The success rate--usually defined as >50% excess weight loss that is maintained for at least five years from bariatric surgery--ranges from 40% in the simple to >70% in the complex operations. The weight loss from surgical treatment results in significant improvements and, in some cases, complete resolution of comorbid conditions associated with obesity. Patients undergoing surgery for obesity need lifelong nutritional supplements and medical monitoring.

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