Weight Loss Surgery Safe for Teens?
Bariatric Surgery Complications May Be Rarer in Teens Than Adults
WebMD News Archive
June 15, 2007 -- Complications from bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery)
may be rarer in teens than adults, a new study suggests.
Esteban Varela, MD, MPH, and colleagues conducted the study. Varela is an
assistant professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical
Center in Dallas.
Though controversial, bariatric surgery for adolescents appears to be
"as safe" as weight loss surgery for adults, write Varela and
They reviewed data from 55,501 people who got bariatric surgery between 2002
and 2006 at 97 U.S. academic medical centers.
The vast majority of patients were adults. However, 309 patients were 12-18
About 2% of the youths were moderate-risk or high-risk patients, compared
with about 6% of the adult patients.
There are various types of bariatric surgery. In this study, most patients
got gastric bypass surgery, including 94% of adults and about 70% of
During the gastric bypass operation, the surgeon creates a smaller stomach
pouch that holds less food than a normal stomach. The food passes from the
pouch, bypassing part of the small intestine, to the rest of the digestive
Bariatric Surgery Complications
In Varela's study, most patients -- young or old -- didn't have
complications from their weight loss surgery.
Bariatric surgery complications occurred in 5.5% of the adolescent patients,
compared with nearly 10% of adult patients. The study doesn't include details
on those complications.
The study doesn't mean that bariatric surgery is trouble-free for
adolescents. Weight loss surgery can have complications at any age.
Your doctor can help you weigh the risks of bariatric surgery and provide
lifestyle tips for life after weight loss surgery.
Varela's study, presented yesterday in San Diego at the American Society for
Bariatric Surgery's annual meeting, only included operations performed at
certain academic medical centers.
In January, a government study showed that more
than 121,000 bariatric surgeries were done in the U.S. in 2004, including
349 operations performed on youths aged 12-17.