Metabolic and bariatric surgery is likely safe, but underutilized in adolescents aged 13-17 years

Author Department

Surgery; Healthcare Quality; Pediatrics

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Background: Bariatric surgery is now accepted for adolescents; however, we may need to improve access to surgery for this vulnerable age group.

Objectives: To compare the demographic characteristics and short-term safety outcomes of adolescents, college-aged individuals, and young adults who have had metabolic and bariatric surgery.

Setting: Bariatric surgery centers.

Methods: Patients aged 13-25 years in the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) database from 2015-2018 with a Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code for sleeve gastrectomy (SG) or gastric bypass (GB) were included. Patients were stratified by operation and analyzed by age: adolescents (13-17 yr), college-aged (18-21 yr), and young adults (22-25 yr).

Results: Of the 760,076 patients in the database, 1047 adolescents (.1%), 10,429 college-aged individuals (1.4%), and 24,841 young adults (3.8%) underwent SG or GB. The majority of patients in each group were female and white. Diabetes was most common among adolescents, hypertension among college-aged individuals. The most prevalent co-morbidity among young adults was diabetes. Preoperative BMI was 47 across all age strata. SG was performed in 27,292 patients: 879 (3.2%) adolescents, 7955 (29.2%) college-aged, and 18,447 (67.6%) young adults. Postoperative complications occurred in approximately 1% of individuals and were similar between age groups (P = .23). A total of 8292 patients underwent GB: 146 (1.8%) adolescents, 2207 (26.6%) college-aged, and 5939 (71.6%) young adults. There was no difference in 30-day complication rates between age groups (P = .32).

Conclusions: There may be a disparity in access to metabolic and bariatric surgery among adolescents, particularly for racial and ethnic minorities; however, these procedures are likely safe in adolescents as young as 13.

Keywords: Adolescent; Metabolic and bariatric surgery.