Bypass Surgery Offers Drastic Weight Loss and Remission for Obese Type 2 Teens

In a recent study, obese teens with type 2 diabetes who underwent gastric bypass surgery not only lost a third of their weight, but also experienced the complete remission of their disease.

The study, conducted by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, focused on 78 teenagers with type 2. While 67 of the teens continued with routine diabetes care, 11 underwent bariatric surgery involving the “Roux-en-Y” method, in which an adjustable band is surgically implanted near the top of the stomach. The band restricts the amount of food that the body can digest at one time and reduces the nutrients that it can absorb.

Typically used as a last resort in cases of morbid obesity, the surgery is highly successful in most cases, allowing patients to enjoy substantial weight loss. In the case of obese people with diabetes, a notable secondary effect is the remission of diabetes symptoms.

The teens who underwent the surgery not only lost an average of 34 percent of their preoperative body weight, but their type 2 symptoms also disappeared. The teens who did not have the surgery lost an average of only two pounds each and had to continue taking their diabetes medications.

The surgical patients also enjoyed reductions in their levels of insulin, glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure-all factors found in metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor to diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease.

In discussing the results, doctors are of two minds. On one hand, they note that the surgery’s ability to decisively control obesity and diabetes symptoms liberated the type 2 teens from life-threatening conditions that over the years would have exacted a huge toll on their bodies.

On the other hand, some doctors say, they fear that gastric bypass surgery, now considered a last-resort procedure, may become a routine expectation among diabetes patients. If so, that expectation could short-circuit efforts to teach diabetes patients, especially young ones, about the need to manage the disease through diet and regular exercise.

Source: Pediatrics, January 2009

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