Weight loss surgery helps teens reverse heart risks

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Effective weight loss surgery for teens - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on January 8, 2018. (WPVI)

Study leaders say bariatric surgery shouldn't be last resort for severely obese teens
Surgery may seem like a drastic step for a teenager who is a severely obese.

But new information from the Teen-LABS study shows, having the surgery earlier in life has dramatic benefits, especially when it comes to protecting the heart.

Many of the 4 to 6 million severely overweight teenagers are already at risk for heart disease, with high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Doctors at Nationwide Children's Hospital and 4 other major medical centers found that a third of their candidates for weight loss surgery had 3 or more of these risk factors.

But 3 years after surgery, that number dropped by 85-percent

And nearly half of the teens had NO risk factors.

"Bariatric surgery is safe, and more importantly, it's extremely effective, and more effective than many of the non-surgical options that are available," says Dr. Marc Michalsky.

19-year-old Leayre Sessley was pre-diabetic, with a family history of heart problems when she decided to have a sleeve gastrectomy.

6 months later, she's down 70 pounds, and says her hard work for a healthier lifestyle is worth it.

"You don't run out of breath so fast, you don't want to quit 2 minutes into a workout. So it gives you more energy to keep going," says Leayre.

Doctors say the results of this study show that weight loss surgery shouldn't just be A LAST RESORT for adolescents with more than 100 pounds to lose.

This is believed to be the first large-scale study of weight loss surgery among teenagers - and it will continue.
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