The study was conducted by Drs. Ilene Fennoy, Jeffrey Zitsman and colleagues at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center.
"Until recently, there have been few treatments capable of helping these young patients lose weight, much less improving their lifelong health prospects. The Lap-Band may well be a useful intervention for tackling teen obesity-which is why it is so important to investigate the procedure's safety and efficacy in this growing population," says Dr. Fennoy.
In the new study, Dr. Fennoy and her colleagues followed 24 morbidly obese adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 who underwent the Lap-Band procedure.
The study participants either had a BMI of greater than 40 or greater than 35 if already suffering from diabetes or obesity-related illnesses.
Six months after surgery, they noted a significant drop in participants' BMI, waist circumference, and blood levels of C-reactive protein. These indicators continued to improve among the 12 patients being followed up at the one-year point.
The authors reported that other measures of metabolic syndrome such as blood lipid and sugar levels came down quickly in the first six months, with "less dramatic" changes seen one year after surgery.
"Of all the bariatric procedures, the Lap-Band is the most benign, with complication rates of less than 1 percent," Dr. Fennoy said.
Dr. Fennoy said that the device, inserted via minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, consists of a simple band to make the stomach smaller and a balloon that can be decompressed when necessary.
Although it is technically reversible, the procedure should be considered a long-term solution for extreme and intractable obesity.
The study has been presented at the annual Endocrine Society meeting in Washington, D.C.