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Best Hospitals for Weight-Loss Surgery

If you, like Al Roker, the ever-popular foodie and weather forecaster from NBC, have ever considered the drastic step of having weight-loss surgery, you should read this first for important information about where to go and what to keep in mind.

Weight-loss surgery patients treated at highly rated hospitals have, on average, a 65% lower chance of experiencing serious complications compared with patients who undergo surgery at poorly rated hospitals, according to a study released today by HealthGrades, a leading independent health care ratings organization.

As part of the study, the quality ratings of hospitals performing weight-loss surgery in 17 states became available today at Healthgrades.com.

HealthGrades' third annual Bariatric Surgery Trends in American Hospitals study evaluated bariatric surgical outcomes at every hospital that performed them in 17 states. The study was co-authored by Rick May, M.D., a senior physician adviser.

Bariatric surgery is a general term describing several types of weight-loss procedures, excluding liposuction.

The study analyzed the outcomes of the most common, including established procedures such as open surgical gastric bypass procedures as well as newer, less-invasive procedures such as "lap-banding" and laparoscopic gastric bypass. Al Roker undertook a gastric bypass operation six years ago.

Gastric bypass surgery patients accounted for the highest rise in complications, increasing 17%. Complications from less-invasive laparoscopic surgery increased by just more than 1%. Complications associated with bariatric surgery include heart attack, kidney failure, stroke and post-surgical infections.

"Laparoscopy lowers complications, especially around the time of the surgery," May says. "With open bypass surgery you can do more complicated procedures." But laparoscopy isn't the best option for all patients -- a surgeon will help figure out which are the best options for each patient.

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