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Weight-Loss Surgery Safe for Very Obese Teens, Study Says

MONDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they have some good news for severely obese teens who decide to undergo weight-loss surgery: These patients are at low risk for major surgical complications.

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.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about weight-loss surgery.

SOURCE: JAMA Pediatrics, news release, Nov. 4, 2013

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 11/4/2013
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