Skip to main content

Early Study Shows Sleeve Gastrectomy is Safe Alternative to Gastric Bypass for Adolescents with Morbid Obesity

WASHINGTON, DC—A new study published in the journal Surgery suggests that laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, a surgical alternative to the well-known gastric bypass procedure for weight-loss surgery, offers fewer complications and maintains the weight loss and other related benefits of bariatric surgery when used in adolescent patients.

The study, led by Children’s National Medical Center surgeon Evan P. Nadler, MD, was the first of its kind in the United States to look at the success of this approach with a  particular focus on how well it could work for extremely obese teenagers. The team reviewed the outcomes for 23 patients who underwent sleeve gastrectomy at Children’s National and found on average that patients had lost approximately 40 percent of their excess weight (more than 65 pounds) within one year of the procedure.

“By the time a teenager comes to the Weight-Loss Surgery Program, we know that most conventional methods of weight loss, including diet and exercise, have not significantly helped to improve their health,” said Dr. Nadler, who is also the co-director of the Children’s National Obesity Institute  as well as a principal investigator in the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. “We want to use our surgical experience to identify the safest and most effective surgeries to help these teens find a way to a healthier life, as soon as possible.”

In addition to weight loss, those who underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy saw important reductions in obesity-related complications such as type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. Prior to surgery, the adolescent patient group had a combination of 64 different complications related to their weight. After one year, the number of weight-related complications had dropped to 22 for the entire study group.

Many studies have shown that the risk of complications from gastric bypass are relatively high, so the weight-loss surgery community continues to seek alternative methods from gastric-banding devices, which are currently not FDA-approved for use in children, to other minimally invasive procedures like sleeve gastrectomy.

To be eligible for consideration as part of the Children’s National Weight-Loss Surgery Program, patients must meet very specific medical requirements that include an extremely high body mass index (BMI), the completion of a six-month medically supervised exercise and diet program, and a psychological evaluation.

Related links

Contact: Jennifer Stinebiser or Emily Dammeyer, 202-476-4500.

Media Contacts