Over 9% of American adolescents between the ages of 12 to 19 are dangerously overweight, which is triple the average of 30 years ago. Many doctors believe that bariatric surgery can be helpful against severe obesity, which critically affects the development of many critical skills for teenagers. By losing weight, the body can get back on track to have a longer life expectancy overall. Researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center say the rate of teenage obesity is increasing, making bariatric surgery a viable treatment option.
How Bariatric Surgery Helps Obese Teens
A recent study by the University of Minnesota Medical School looked at cases of 242 severely obese teenagers with BMIs over 50 between 2007 to 2012. 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 had gastric bypass surgery, where the digestive system is re-routed 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, in which a band controls how much food enters the stomach
Should Obese Teens Undergo Weight Loss Surgery?
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.
However, he believes that more studies need to be done 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.