If deep brain stimulation ever does become an option for managing severe obesity, Whiting said, he would expect it only to be used when all else fails. "This would definitely be a last resort," he said.
"At first, it would absolutely be a last-ditch option," neurosurgeon Halpern said. But, he added, it's also possible that deep brain stimulation could become an add-on therapy, used after gastric bypass for some patients whose weight does not fall -- or even an alternative in certain cases where bypass surgery is too risky.
Medtronic provided the deep brain stimulation hardware for the study and funded the work. One of Whiting's co-researchers is employed by the company.
Learn more about brain stimulation therapies from the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
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