The number of American teens having weight-loss surgery tripled between the late 1990s and 2003, and it continues to increase. But there is limited information about the safety of the surgery in teens.
In the new study, researchers looked at nearly 250 severely obese teens with an average age of 17 who had weight-loss surgery. Half of the patients had four or more obesity-related conditions, such as high cholesterol, sleep apnea, back pain, joint pain, high blood pressure and fatty liver disease.
The teens underwent different types of weight-loss surgery, including laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (66 percent), vertical sleeve gastrectomy (28 percent) and adjustable gastric banding (6 percent), according to the study, which was published online Nov. 4 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
None of the teens died during their initial hospitalization or within a month of their surgery. Major complications, such as needing a subsequent surgery, occurred in 8 percent of the patients, the researchers said in a journal news release. Minor complications, such as being readmitted to the hospital for dehydration, occurred in 15 percent of the patients.
The low rate of major complications is significant given that the teens were severely obese and had significant obesity-related health issues, said study author Dr. Thomas Inge, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues.
Inge's team said further research is needed to assess long-term outcomes for teens who have weight-loss surgery.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about weight-loss surgery.