Health of Obese Teens Better After Laparoscopic Surgery

The results of a new study show that the overall health of obese teenagers improved after they underwent laparoscopic gastric banding surgery.

The study’s lead author, Ilene Fennoy, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian and clinical professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, said that this type of surgery – called the Lap Band procedure – is a safe and effective way for morbidly obese teens to lose weight. The procedure has been approved for use in adults by the FDA, but not yet for teenagers.

Dr. Fennoy observed that obesity-related health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, are common in extremely obese teenagers, who have had to rely on non-surgical methods or high-risk surgeries to lose weight; and to date few treatments have been effective in helping adolescents. “Laparoscopic gastric banding offers the possibility of a new therapy for morbidly obese adolescents who have medical complications,” Dr. Fennoy said.

The study involved 14 morbidly obese adolescents, 6 boys and 8 girls, aged between 14 and 17 years, with the objective of documenting the impact of Lap-Band on the medical complications of obesity or their risk factors.

In order to shrink the stomach without using staples, a band goes round the upper part of the stomach, to create a small pouch that restricts food intake. The surgeon implants a small access port, and after the surgery the doctor periodically adjusts the gastric band by inflating or deflating a saline-filled balloon that lies inside the band. If desired, the procedure is reversible.

Dr. Fennoy stated that patients lost an average of 20 pounds within 6 months of the operation. While blood pressure remained virtually unchanged, major improvements were noted, including levels of fat in the blood, average blood sugar, liver function and a measure of immune response.

“Laparoscopic gastric banding provides a reasonable solution for obese young people who need to lose a large amount of weight,” Fennoy said.

Source: Endocrine Society, 9th Annual Meeting, June, 2008

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