The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a third of all American children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese. With excess weight in kids fast reaching epidemic proportions and related medical issues creating big concerns, more doctors are realizing the benefits that weight loss surgery may present for younger patients. While these procedures are not commonly performed in teens, studies are finding that bariatric procedures are safe and effective for adolescents who are considered seriously obese.
As it stands, about 1,500 to 2,000 American teens undergo surgical weight loss procedures each year. Studies, however, are finding that these procedures may be indicated in more cases, especially in light of findings that they can help improve a number of related health concerns. Associated problems for teens who are severely obese include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, depression and more. Considering the potential benefits, these once controversial procedures for kids are now gaining more of a national consensus on their viability.
Despite the possible benefits, bariatric surgery for teens still faces a number of misconceptions about its viability. Perhaps the biggest false notion is the belief that undergoing such a procedure is admitting defeat or taking the easy way out. The reality is, however, that getting approved for bariatric surgery in the teen years requires a number of prescreening measures. These are designed to ensure that patients are not only good candidates medically, but also psychologically. Jumping through the hoops, in fact, requires several months and a great deal of commitment on the part of the teen and his or her family.
While weight loss surgery for teens is not widely performed, the benefits for those who are dangerously obese are gaining recognition. Families who are concerned about a teen’s weight are urged to discuss all the options with their healthcare providers. Surgery may not be advised in all cases.