Teen Bariatric Surgery Proves Very Effective

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bariatric-surgery-patientsA new study published via a special posting on the New England Journal of Medicine's website entitled "Weight Loss and Health Status 3 Years after Bariatric Surgery in Adolescents," shows the dramatic benefits for younger, obese patients after weight-loss surgery.

Researchers from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and four other academic centers, led by Thomas H. Inge, M.D., PhD., followed 228 obese teenagers for three years after two different types of this surgery, also known as bariatric.

The patients' mean age was 17 years and three-quarters of them were female. Their mean BMI was 53, as compared to "normal," which is 3o or less; severe obesity is 35 or more, and 53 represents morbid obesity.

Gastric bypass was the procedure performed on 161 subjects, and the less-invasive sleeve gastrectomy was the choice among 67 obese teens.

The results three years on were quite heartening (all of these figures represent mean changes):

Weight declined by 27 percent; remission of diabetes occurred in 95 percent of those who had the condition prior to surgery; remission of kidney abnormalities occurred in 86 percent; elevated blood pressure disappeared in three-quarters of those who had it; remission of abnormal lipid levels occurred in two-thirds. Overall quality of life was improved "significantly" (the available draft is not the final study, so some specifics remain imprecise).

The upsides far outweighed (no pun intended) by the downsides, which included low iron levels in a bit over half of the patients, while 30 of them (13 percent) had to undergo one or more follow-up intra-abdominal procedures, including surgery.

"[W]e found significant improvements in weight, cardiometabolic health, and weight-related quality of life at three years after the procedure," the authors concluded. "Risks of surgery included specific micronutrient deficiencies and the need for additional abdominal procedures."

Given the devastating physical, physiological and mental health-related consequences of morbid obesity among teenagers, these salutary results, which comport quite well with similar outcomes in adults, are hopefully a harbinger of more widespread use of surgery against morbid obesity in youngsters before permanent effects occur adversely effecting their circulatory and other systems.