Bariatric surgical management of adolescents with morbid obesity

Sean J Barnett
Current Opinion in Pediatrics 2013, 25 (4): 515-20

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Adolescent obesity continues to be a significant public health issue. To date, there are no medical therapies that provide significant, durable weight loss. Bariatric surgery has been shown in the adult and now the adolescent population to provide a reasonable alternative for weight loss.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent publications have focused on the revision of the current guidelines for bariatric surgery in adolescents to more closely align with their well-established adult counterparts. These guidelines now introduce the establishment of multidisciplinary teams for the care of this subset of adolescent surgical patients. Numerous manuscripts in the past 2-3 years have demonstrated the overall effectiveness of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, and most recently sleeve gastrectomy for both significant weight loss and comorbidity reduction with safety profiles similar to those found in adults. Despite these data, a recently published study showed that the trend for adolescent bariatric surgery has been stagnant over a 6-year period. There is also an ongoing shift in the type of procedure performed for morbid obesity in the United States toward sleeve gastrectomy and away from the adjustable gastric band.

SUMMARY: With the growing number of morbidly obese adolescents in the United States coupled with the relative ineffectiveness of medical therapy in this group of patients, bariatric surgery consistently provides a means for significant weight loss and the resolution of substantial comorbidities. Its approval is slowly increasing, and the growing fund of knowledge in regard to complication rates and the efficacy of bariatric surgery will ultimately result in its more widespread acceptance.

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