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Does Weight-Loss Surgery Work for Teens? Yes, Study Says
Date:6/15/2012

FRIDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- Many doctors hesitate to recommend weight-loss surgery for obese teenagers, but a new study has found that may be both safe and effective.

Researchers at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine analyzed data from more than 400 surgeons at 360 facilities across the United States who performed weight-loss procedures on nearly 900 very obese male and female patients aged 11 to 20.

Two types of procedures, gastric bypass surgery and gastric band surgery, were performed. Gastric bypass surgery divides the stomach into a larger and smaller section and attaches the small intestines to the smaller stomach pouch. In gastric band surgery, a silicone band is placed around the stomach to reduce its size.

After one year, both methods reduced the patients' weight and body-mass index (a measure of body fat based on height and weight). Both surgeries also led to substantial improvements in several obesity-related physical- and mental-health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and depression, the researchers said.

The average amount of weight loss among all patients was 66 pounds. Patients who had gastric bypass surgery lost more than twice as much weight as those who had gastric band surgery.

"These positive outcomes after bariatric surgery have not been documented for other treatment options, especially in this age group," study leader Sarah Messiah, a research associate professor and perinatal/pediatric epidemiologist, said in a university news release.

One patient in the study died from cardiac arrest five months after surgery. However, the death rate from bariatric surgery remains much lower than almost any other type of surgery, Messiah said.

She noted that this was the first large-scale study of bariatric surgery in this age group and could change the treatment options offered to very obese youth.

Experts cautioned, however, that weight-l
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