Requiring prospective bariatric surgery patients to lose weight before they can undergo the procedure may not be necessary or safe, University of Pennsylvania researchers found in a new study published recently in the journal Obesity Surgery.

The practice of having patients follow a medically supervised weight-loss program before the surgery is rooted in 28-year-old guidelines from the National Institutes of Health, which concluded that clinicians should first determine that patients could not succeed with nonsurgical attempts to drop weight. It was later interpreted to require patients to try dieting before the surgery, researchers found.

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