(RxWiki News) Weight loss surgery is a last resort for morbidly obese teenagers. For those that do receive the operation, researchers are finding it is offering them benefits in addition to shedding extra pounds.
Within the initial two years after bariatric surgery, the teens also experienced significant improvement in obesity-related diseases, including substantial decreases in blood pressure.
"Exercise often and make wise food choices to avoid obesity."
Dr. Marc Michalsky, lead author of the study and surgical director of bariatric surgery at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said it is not yet known whether the short-term improvements will necessarily mark a long-term solution to weight-related diseases or lower the risk of future obesity-related diseases.
About 20 percent of U.S. children are considered obese. Though it is performed, bariatric surgery on children is considered only after diet and exercise programs have failed.
At Nationwide Children's Hospital, teens must also have significant organ damage and a poor quality of life because of their obesity. They go through an evaluation that lasts several months before they are deemed a candidate for weight loss surgery.
During the small study, investigators retrospectively analyzed 15 morbidly obese adolescent patients, of which 10 were female, who underwent gastric bypass surgery between 2004 and 2009. Researchers compared clinical and demographic data collected before the operation with test results after surgery.
They found that in addition to significant weight loss, common obesity-related diseases had improved or disappeared two years after surgery. Of the five patients with hypertension before the operation, four had normal blood pressure two years later.
Dr. Michalsky stressed that the procedure can be an effective option for teenagers, though it only should be considered a last resort option.
“Bariatric surgery in adolescents is never a cosmetic procedure,” said Dr. Michalsky. “These teens are very sick, they are suffering and they can benefit from weight loss surgery. Our study demonstrates the safety and efficacy of weight reduction surgery in morbidly obese adolescents.”
The clinical study was published in the January 2012 edition of journal Pediatric Blood & Cancer.