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Obesity (cont.)

Surgery for Obesity

Surgery to correct obesity (known as bariatric surgery) is a solution for some obese people who cannot lose weight on their own or have severe obesity-related medical problems. Generally, surgery is recommended only for morbidly obese people (body mass index 40 or greater). This means men who are at least 100 pounds overweight and women who are at least 80 pounds overweight.

The two types of bariatric surgery are malabsorptive and restrictive.

  • Malabsorptive procedures decrease intestinal absorption of food by bypassing part of the digestive system. A greater proportion of food than usual passes through without being absorbed.
  • Restrictive procedures decrease the amount of food that a person can take in by decreasing the size of the stomach.

Both surgical strategies entail changes in how food is processed in the body. While they are successful in helping some people lose weight, they also may cause cramps, diarrhea, and other unpleasant effects. For more information, go to the article Surgery in the Treatment of Obesity.

Liposuction is purely a cosmetic procedure that removes fat cells but has no beneficial effects on health, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/23/2012
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