In a new study published in the Journal JAMA Pediatrics, severely obese teenagers who have bariatric surgery see very few complications following their procedure.* According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of obese adolescents in the United States has increased from just 5% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010. Researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center say the rate of teenage obesity is increasing making bariatric surgery a viable treatment options.
While previous studies show that bariatric surgery is safe for teenagers, there have been very few comprehensive ones that have analyzed the safety of adolescents and weight loss surgery. The study looked at information from 2007 to 2012 from 242 severely obese teenagers who were on average 17 years old. The teenagers’ median body mass index was 50.5 Over 51% of the teenagers had four or more co-existing medical conditions including high cholesterol, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, Type II Diabetes and back and joint pain.
66% of the patients studied had gastric bypass surgery where the digestive system is rerouted past most of the stomach. 28% of the patients had vertical sleeve gastrectomy where the stomach was reduced by about 25%. Another 6% had adjustable gastric banding.
The study examined the teens for up to 30 days following their procedure. They found that 77% of the patients had no post-procedure complications. Also, no deaths were observed in this sample size. Dehydration or other minor complications occurred in 15% of the patients; 8% resulted in major complications such as reoperation.
The study’s author Dr. Thomas Inge believes their findings should reassure patients to allow their morbidly obese teenagers to undergo weight loss surgery. It is a safe way to help a teen lose weight and help treat some health conditions they’re suffering from. He does believe however that more studies need to be done in order to determine the real long-term risks associated with weight loss surgery and teenagers. They are following the patients in this study to learn more about the results found in this sample size in terms of weight loss.
Many doctors believe that bariatric surgery can be helpful as severe obesity can stop or affect the development of many critical skills for teenagers. By losing weight, the body can get back on track to learn more healthy and have a longer life expectancy overall. These are all things they believe should be studied as they are all interrelated with a teenager and their obesity.
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