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Obes Surg. 1995 Aug;5(3):279-284.

Obesity Surgery in Children.

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Department of Surgery, Cooper Green Hospital, Birmingham, AL, 35233, USA.



There have been few articles about bariatric surgery for morbidly obese children. Nevertheless, children who suffer clinically severe obesity also suffer poor social acceptance and an inability to participate in sports or other life activities. Since 1983 the author has performed vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG), Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGBP), or biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) on 22 children, ages 8 - 18 years.


This was a retrospective review of 22 children, 11 with sleep apnea and 11 without sleep apnea. There were nine males and 13 females. The procedures were VBG-5; RYGBP-14; and BPD-4.


There were no operative deaths, infections, or other serious immediate complications. Body mass index (BMI) in those with sleep apnea decreased from a mean of 67.8 preoperatively to 46.5 kg/m(2) at an average follow-up of 32 months. Likewise, for those without sleep apnea, BMI decreased from 56.4 preoperatively to 35.5 kg/m(2) at an average follow-up of 50 months. All patients with sleep apnea had this condition resolve with adequate weight loss. Furthermore, these patients have been able to stay awake in school and have made better grades. Postoperative complications included protein deficiency in three BPD patients, and Vitamin A and D deficiency, folic acid deficiency, gallstones, kidney stones, postoperative laryngeal edema, and incisional hernia in one patient each. There were two late deaths; one at 15 months and one at 3.5 years postoperatively.


Clinically severely obese children can safely undergo bariatric operations usually offered to adults. Furthermore, most patients have sustained significant weight loss. Those patients with sleep apnea have had resolution of their sleep apnea. Complications can be minimized with adequate vitamin, mineral, and trace element supplementation. Long-term results are not yet known.


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