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Bariatric Surgery and Teens: Is it a Good Idea?

Tijuana Bariatric Center » Bariatric Surgery » Bariatric Surgery and Teens: Is It a Good Idea?

Why Should Teens Undergo Bariatric Surgery?

Teenagers struggling with chronic obesity face a more complex scenario. However, the question is more complex. While it is legal for teens to undergo bariatric surgery, some health professionals question the issue. When it comes to bariatric surgery and teens, our Tijuana Bariatric Surgery surgeons firmly believe that many obese teenage patients can benefit from bariatric procedures, but that extreme care must be taken in screening candidates.

Not all adult patients are psychologically and emotionally ready for the commitment that bariatric surgery entails, so it only makes sense that not all teenage patients would be, either.

Obesity is an epidemic among children and adolescents in the United States as the Centers for Disease Control report that 1 in 5 children are overweight. Estimates indicate that approximately two million teenagers suffer from severe obesity.

Seema Kumar, M.D., a pediatric endocrinology consultant for the Mayo Clinic notes that children and adolescents with severe obesity are at risk for many of the same comorbidities that affect obese adults, along with depression and impaired quality of life. These children almost always remain obese as adults with 65% having Class II obesity as adults, defined as a BMI of more than 40. Patients with childhood obesity also have more health complications and higher mortality as compared to those who developed obesity as adults.

friend helping friendIs Bariatric Surgery Safe and Beneficial for Teens?

According to the highly acclaimed Johns Hopkins Medical Center, studies indicate that bariatric surgery may improve the health of obese teens by reducing their risk for comorbid diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and sleep apnea. However, there are no studies showing the long-term effects of bariatric surgery on teens as they develop into adults.

As a result, most bariatric surgeons who are willing to perform weight-loss surgery on teens reserve the surgery for extreme cases, such as for teens with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 - 50 or more. Others may be willing to perform bariatric surgery on a teen with a BMI of 35 to 40 if the teen also has other health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

How We Determine Candidacy for Bariatric Surgery for Teenage Patients?

Determining candidacy for bariatric surgery among teen patients is somewhat more delicate than determining candidacy among adult patients. However, the criteria are generally similar. As with adult patients, bariatric surgery should be considered a last resort for weight loss for teenagers. Patients should have attempted weight loss through diet and exercise without success. Criteria for teenage patients include:

  • Be at or near their final adult height
  • Be emotionally mature enough to make the decision to undergo bariatric surgery
  • Understand the lifestyle changes to which they will have to commit after undergoing surgery, and be willing and able to make that commitment
  • Be healthy and mentally stable
  • Have a strong and supportive family
  • Written consent from the parent is required
  • Clearance from the family doctor is also required

Learn More about Bariatric Surgery and Teens

To learn more about bariatric surgery and teens, please contact Tijuana Bariatric Center today.

Author: Dr. Fernando Garcia Govea

Bariatric Surgeon

Dr. Garcia is a highly qualified surgeon, and has more than eight years of bariatric treatment experience and two decades in the medical field. His experience (10,000+ procedures) helps him work with all patients including those with a BMI of 80 or higher to improve their quality of life.

Read more here: Fernando Garcia Govea

Dr Garcia

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