Effects of weight loss surgery in adolescents

by | Diet and Weightloss, Kids and Teens Health, Procedures, You ask we answer

Researchers investigate the effects of weight loss surgery in adolescents three years post operation. Rates of overweight and obesity continue to rise in Australia affecting the health of Australian adults and children.

Overweight and obesity affects around one in four Australian children and adolescents and can lead to lifelong health complications like development of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease.

Weight loss surgery is increasingly becoming an option for obese adolescents who have been unable to lose weight in other ways. There are little data, however, looking at the clinical effects of weight loss surgery in adolescents in the years post surgery including complications.

Researchers investigated the effects of weight loss surgery on weight loss, coexisting conditions, quality of life, micronutrient levels and any side effects or additional operations in the three years after surgery.

The study looked at 242 participants aged 19 years and under who had undergone bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery).

This included:

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (a small part of the stomach is used to create a new stomach pouch, roughly the size of an egg, and the smaller stomach is connected to the middle portion of the small intestine bypassing the rest of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine)
  • Sleeve gastrectomy (surgical removal of a large portion of the stomach)
  • Adjustable gastric banding (an inflatable silicon is placed around the top portion of the stomach to slow the consumption of food).

Outcomes assessed included weight related quality of life, weight loss, status of coexisting conditions and micronutrient outcomes. Follow up data were collected at six months, one year, two years and three years post surgery.

Three years after surgery the average weight loss in the adolescent participants was 41 kg with a reduction in body mass index (BMI). Twenty-six percent of the participants who were obese prior to surgery were no longer obese three years later.

Other positive health benefits observed three years after the surgery were lower blood pressure, normalised lipid (cholesterol / fat) levels in the blood, resolution of abnormal kidney function and remission of type 2 diabetes. Some nutritional deficiencies were observed three years post surgery including a decline in vitamin A and B levels.


This study showed that there were numerous health benefits three years on in adolescents who underwent bariatric surgery. However there were also risks associated with the procedures including micronutrient deficiencies.

Weight loss surgery is not to be taken lightly and shouldn’t be used before trying more traditional weight loss measures like healthy diet and exercise. Talk to your doctor for advice.