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W E I GH T M A N A G E MEN T Bariatric Surgery an Effective Approach to Addressing Obesity When performed at an experienced center, laparoscopic bariatric surgery is a safe and effective procedure to help patients who have struggled with weight loss. The operation can “reduce long-term health complications and add to a patient’s life span,” says Erik Dutson, MD, surgical director of the UCLA Center for Obesity and METabolic (COMET) Health. “The earlier they get it, the greater the benefit.” the results are superior to any other weight-loss treatment. After undergoing surgery, approximately three-fourths of COMET patients no longer have diabetes, hypertension is resolved in nearly two- thirds of patients, and 90 percent no longer experience sleep apnea. Over the long run, patients on average keep off 50-to-75 percent of their excess weight. COMET performs two types of bariatric surgeries — sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass. Individuals who are candidates for laparoscopic bariatric surgery have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 along with associated conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and sleep apnea. For such patients, Dr. Dutson says, Patient education and preparation is a key component of COMET’s success, Dr. Dutson says. The center also has an integrated team of experts that includes bariatric surgeons, liver-disease specialists, endocrinologists who treat metabolic disorder and diabetes, cardiologists, interventional gastroenterologists and dietitians. After surgery, patients can participate in ongoing support groups and classes on weight management and healthy lifestyles. As a multidisciplinary team, we evaluate patients and work with them from both the medical and nutritional perspective. And for patients who have surgery, we work with them right after the operation and continue to follow up with them over the long term, which is the key to success after bariatric surgery. UCLAHEALTH.ORG 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (1-800-825-2631) “As a multidisciplinary team, we evaluate patients and work with them from both the medical and nutritional perspective,” says Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD, medical director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and a member of the COMET team. “And for patients who have surgery, we work with them right after the operation and continue to follow up with them over the long term, which is the key to success after bariatric surgery.” COMET is not just for surgical patients. Nonsurgical weight-loss treatments also are offered, as well as treatments for obesity- related health conditions, such as diabetes and liver complications. “There is a lot of guilt associated with being unable to achieve a healthy weight on your own. People get messages from the media and their friends and family that they are to blame,” says Simon Beaven, MD, PhD, a liver specialist who serves as COMET’s research director. “That is a poorly placed focus. This is a disease state, much of which is dictated by the hormones going between fat, liver and the brain. It is a complicated problem that demands proper evaluation and treatment.” For more information about bariatric surgery and COMET, go to: bariatrics.ucla.edu