Controversial laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding - or lap band surgery - has been found to be beneficial for "severely obese" teenagers and should be used as a "first option" to manage weight during adolescence, a new Australian study has found.
Researchers from the University of Adelaide shared the findings of their study last week.
They reported that lap band surgery was not only an efficient way to manage weight for extremely obese teens, but it also had positive effects on the patients' mental health.
Dr Sanjeev Khurana, a paediatric surgeon and lecturer at the university, said the reversible surgery could safely be used by teenagers battling extreme obesity.
He said: "Although gastric banding has been controversial and is currently less used in adults with severe obesity, lap band surgery is one of the most studied for obesity management. It has a high safety record and can be a temporary option to manage severe obesity during adolescence.
"Our findings support lap band surgery as a safe and effective option for the management of adolescents with severe obesity, provided it is performed by an experienced surgeon and managed afterwards."
While the surgery can benefit those struggling with obesity, paediatric endocrinologist Alexia Pena said it is not for those who are just a little overweight.
"We are talking about a group of adolescents with severe obesity and significant health and psychological problems related to their weight. This is not for everyone," she said.
The study found that patient weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) "improved significantly" following surgery, with long-term BMI loss at between 7.1 and 14.7kg/m2.
Dr Pena said: "The median BMI reduction of 10kg/m2 with the lap band is a good result when compared to BMI reduction using the few medications available or lifestyle measures, which are around 1-3kg/m2.
"Lap band surgery is reversible and allows time for adolescents to mature to make a more informed decision on a permanent surgical procedure, if it is required later on in life."