Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Considering Adolescent Bariatric Surgery
Weighing the options

by Dr. Samar Mattar & Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber

September 01, 2011

Nearly one in three children and teens are overweight. Teens that are overweight might experience irregular menstrual periods, avoid physical activity and suffer from poor school performance and sleeping issues. Being overweight also can affect self-esteem and lead to depression, alcoholism and drug abuse. In the long run, it can lead to chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and an early death.

If your teen has struggled to lose weight, you may want to consider bariatric surgery. Here is what you and your family need to think about when evaluating this option.

When to consider surgery

Bariatric surgery is a serious decision that will impact your teen for the rest of his or her life. Normally, surgery is only recommended after other attempted weight loss programs have failed and additional guidelines are met, including those that address physical maturity, degree of obesity, willingness to follow a new lifestyle and a supportive family environment.

Types of surgery

There are three main types of surgery. All work by reducing appetite which then reduces the stress associated with dieting. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass works by restricting how much can be eaten while slightly decreasing food in the intestine. The adjustable gastric band and vertical sleeve gastrectomy work only by restricting the amount of food that can be eaten. All have risks and benefits you should discuss with the doctor. What’s most important is to find a bariatric surgeon with expertise in the special needs of teens to help determine the best approach.

After surgery

Your child will have to adopt a new lifestyle and a new diet. Long-term medical care will also be needed.

Weight-loss surgery involves a deep commitment and intensive follow-through from both your teen and your entire family. However, it can improve your child’s overall quality of life and self-esteem.

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