Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

University of Florida Health Fights Obesity with Multidisciplinary Approach

Researchers at University of Florida Health are using a multidisciplinary approach to fight obesity. Experts from surgery, cardiology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, nephrology, internal medicine, nutrition and psychiatry collaborate to offer comprehensive, minimally invasive bariatric surgeries at the UF Health Weight Loss Surgery Center. “Through our research and clinical practice, our bariatric surgery center is well on its way to becoming the best, not just in the state of Florida but also in the Southeast region,” said center director Jeffrey Friedman, MD, FACS. The center holds joint accreditation from the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Physicians see a large volume of patients for consultation, including adolescents and children. The center at UF Health Shands Hospital offers gastric bypass and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy as well as revision and corrective surgeries to address complications from previous surgeries. Friedman notes, “Patients from all over the state who have had bariatric surgery complications are referred to us for corrective procedures.”

The center has an active research program that’s funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers at UF Health are working to increase options for these patient who are often disqualified from heart transplant surgery due to obesity. A study published in the journal Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases in September 2018 demonstrated the safety of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in patients who had morbid obesity and end-stage heart failure requiring left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, support. According to the author, to our knowledge, this is the largest reported series of bariatric surgery performed on heart failure patients with LVAD support for the purpose of increasing eligibility for cardiac transplantation. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy lowered body mass index in the majority of these patients, making them eligible for a heart transplant. Friedman adds, “In some cases, patients no longer need a transplant because weight loss restores their cardiac function.”

Looking ahead, Friedman sees a place for bariatric surgery in the treatment of diabetes and points to the American Diabetes Association recommendations for the use of metabolic surgery to manage Type 2 diabetes. “With multidisciplinary clinical expertise and a strong focus on research, UF Health provides state-of-the-art care for obesity and continues to advance the field to improve patient health outcomes,” says Dr. Friedman.



RB Hawkins, K Go, SL Raymond, A Ayzengart, J Friedman, et al. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in patients with heart failure and left ventricular assist devices as a bridge to transplant. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2018;14:1274-1275

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