ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— Bariatric surgery is best known as a weight-loss tool when diet and exercise don’t cut it. Research shows about 228,000 Americans undergo these procedures each year which is only about one percent of the eligible population. Now a new study reveals this surgery has benefits beyond weight loss.

Obesity is a national epidemic. More than one in three American adults is obese and about one in 13 is considered extremely obese. Weight loss procedures known as bariatric surgery can help people who have severe obesity lose weight. A new study led by Cleveland Clinic researchers shows the surgery might also help keep a person’s liver healthy.

“What happened was very dramatic,” said Steven E. Nissen, M.D., MACC, Chief Academic Officer Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Fatty liver disease occurs when the liver becomes infiltrated with fat. It can lead to liver failure and there’s no cure. Investigators studied 1,158 adults and found those who had bariatric surgery had an 88 percent lower risk of having their advanced fatty liver disease progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver-related death.

“The reduction was as large as we’ve ever seen for any intervention for any disease,” shared Dr. Nissen.

Researchers also found patients who had bariatric surgery had a 70 percent lower chance of developing serious cardiovascular issues, like heart attack and stroke. While there are some risks, doctors say the procedures are safe and effective options for those who are good candidates.

Other research has shown bariatric surgery may help improve or lower the risk of type two diabetes, sleep apnea, back pain, and depression.