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Bariatric Surgeons, Los Angeles
The UCLA Center for Obesity and METabolic health center uses a team approach to provide the most comprehensive resources possible for the patient.
Team members are involved in the patient's care from screening through follow-up.
Dr. Yijun Chen grew up in Hunan, China and attended Fourth Military Medical School in Xi'an, China. He came to the United States to do cancer research, and did his postdoctoral training in cancer biology at Stanford University. Dr. Chen completed his surgical residency training at Stanford University, where he found his passion to become a bariatric and minimally invasive surgeon. After finishing his bariatric fellowship at Duke University, he joined the UCLA Department of Surgery.
Dr. Dutson is the Surgical Director of the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health (COMET) at UCLA, and has been a part of the multidisciplinary approach to the clinical management of obesity at UCLA for twelve years. He has been actively involved in the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the American College of Surgeons and the Society for American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons, where he serves on several committees and presents research on an a regular basis.
Digestive Diseases and Pfleger Liver Institute
Dr. Beaven is the director of the Metabolic Syndrome Program within the Division of Digestive Diseases and has created a cross-disciplinary program (COMET) along with Dr. Erik Dutson for studying how metabolic pathways influence liver and gastrointestinal diseases. Dr. Beaven was a Named New Investigator in the UCLA Center for Ulcer Research and Education (CURE) and has received awards from the UCLA Department of Medicine Research Day Competition.
Dr. Issa is a gastroenterologist and an interventional and bariatric endoscopist whose clinical practice focuses on using minimally-invasive approaches to diagnose and treat digestive diseases such as obesity, pancreas and bile ducts disorders, esophagus and stomach conditions, hiatal hernia, gastroparesis, fatty liver disease, hemorrhoids, colon polyps and early cancer lesions. He has a particular interest in bariatric endoscopy and obesity medicine.
Dr. Sedarat joined UCLA in 2013 as a member of the interventional endoscopy within the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. His clinical interests encompass the development and application of advanced endoscopic techniques and interventions to diagnose, stage, treat and palliate a range of benign and malignant gastrointestinal disorders. He is proficient in the application of advanced endoscopic techniques including therapeutic ERCP, EUS with fine needle aspiration.
Dr. Thaker is an advanced endoscopist with particular interest in bariatric and metabolic endoscopy as well as other minimally invasive endoscopic procedures which help fill the gap between medical management and traditional surgery. He is co-leading the bariatric endoscopy program at UCLA, which is now among the busiest endoscopic weight loss centers on the west coast. He frequently coordinates with a multidisciplinary team in the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition and COMET at UCLA.
Medical Weight Loss Management
Michael Garcia, MD is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Division of Clinical Nutrition and Center for Human Nutrition at UCLA. He received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and completed residency training in internal medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, he served as Chief Medical Resident and hospitalist. He completed a fellowship in Clinical Nutrition at UCLA. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Physician Nutrition Specialist.
Anna Balioukova has been with UCLA for over 12 years. After providing care to patients in the immediate post-operative period as a floor nurse, she witnessed the rapid resolution of comorbidities, which piqued her interest in metabolic surgery. After obtaining her Masters of Science degree in Nursing from UCLA In 2013, she began working as a bariatric surgery manager. Her clinical interests include the brain-gut connection and importance of psychological factors in postoperative weight loss.
Vanessa Gillman, RN
Vanessa is the Program Coordinator, working with our bariatric patients to ensure they have met all requirements, are prepared for surgery, and are supported along their journey. Vanessa joined the team at UCLA in 2023, and comes with several years of nursing experience working directly with bariatric patients.
The Surgical Coordinator is available to assist patients through every step of the surgical process. She is a resource for information regarding the procedures, pre-operative instructions, scheduling pre-operative follow-up appointments, surgery-scheduling, and insurance authorizations.
Angie Huang, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Angie is a second career dietitian with a focus in weight management and healthspan. She completed her Masters of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity along with her dietetic internship from the University of Southern California and has a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from UCLA. Angie has a previous background in biotechnology and research and has worked in various nutrition disciplines ranging from metabolic syndrome, cancer, diabetes, to clinical nutrition and bariatrics.
Rachel Malolepszy, MS, RD
Rachel is a bariatric dietitian who completed her Master of Science in Nutrition, Healthspan and Longevity and dietetic internship from the USC. She also has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. Rachel has experience working as an inpatient and outpatient dietitian and has had a wide variety of nutrition experience ranging from nutrition support (TPN and tube feeding), pre and post-transplant, dialysis patients, bariatric surgery, diabetes, surgical oncology and more.
Devon Kaiser, Psy.D
The psychologist specializes in the assessment and evaluation of identifying and treating emotional components of improper eating habits.
Michelle Ibarra is a medical administrative professional with over 8 years of experience. She has specifically worked with Bariatric and General Surgery patients since 2021. Michelle is your first point of contact when you call our office and will guide you through the entire process from your first appointment through to your follow ups after surgery. Outside of her work, Michelle enjoys her quiet time at home with her two dogs, a Labrador named Mylo and her Miniature Schnauzer named Cleo.
Mary works to ensure day-to-day operations run smoothly. Her goal is that all patients are satisfied with their overall experience and the team continues to improve as research and technology develop. Mary is motivated by our bariatric patients’ stories and encourages you to share your success stories and journey with our team. She has several years of healthcare and non-profit management experience and has overseen operations of multiple clinics in Los Angeles.