Weight Loss Surgery for Teens: Is it Safe?

Posted by Jason Radecke on Fri, Mar 08, 2019

Weight loss surgery is a safe, trusted practice that has improved the lives of thousands of people. Despite it being safe, it is important for teens to know the possible risks of the surgery and post-op side effects that could happen. Weight loss surgery for teens is only recommended for those who are in serious medical need. Moreover, adolescent bariatric surgery should only be done at speciality medical centers that have accredited programs for adolescents.  

Safety Concerns

Weight loss surgery for teens has to be very careful considered. The reasons are multiple. This is often due to lack of control of food available to them and other variables. However, it is still safe if they do need to go through with a surgery. When doctors consult with a teen about whether or not they are a good candidate for weight loss surgery there are a number of factors that the surgeon must take into consideration. Some of these factors include sexual maturity, bone growth, and nutrition. With all these things in mind, the youngest age for bariatric surgery is typically 16 years old, but this is not common.

Sixteen is the limit because at this age doctors can start predicting if having weight loss surgery will be a helpful solution for them long-term. Doctors are careful to not operate on someone of a younger age because it can interfere with their nutrition and development as they grow older. This may then lead to incomplete growth of the teen’s body and hormonal imbalances.

Types Of Surgery Available

Besides the fact that patients younger than 18 have a different set of risks involved with operation for weight loss surgery, there are many procedures that the FDA has not approved. For instance, gastric banding, has not been approved for patients younger than 18.

Doctors go through an extensive process to make sure that both teens and their parents get all the correct information about the procedure and what surgery is best for them. Some doctors can bring in groups of patients with their parents all at once to run through the different types of procedures. If a patient then wants to continue and move forward with the process the doctor will talk to them individually to figure out the best plan of action. Doctors will often choose to evaluate the patients for a few months to track their eating and exercise habits.

Lastly, patients will need to have a psych evaluation to ensure they’re mentally stable for surgery. This step can make or break a doctor’s decision to approve a patient for weight loss surgery. This stems from the knowledge that the weight loss journey can often have a significant mental impact on a patient. Allowing a young patient who is not mentally ready to undergo surgery to proceed with the procedure can be detrimental to their health.  

While weight loss surgery can improve the health of teens who are overweight, it is important to know all the steps and risks involved with having weight loss surgery. Teens should talk to their doctors to see what option is best for them and follow all necessary procedures before and after surgery. At Riverside Surgical & Weight Loss Center, we’re dedicated to helping patients live the happy and healthy life they deserve. To learn more about how bariatric surgery can help you lose weight, schedule a consultation with our doctors today!

Tags: Candidates For Bariatric Surgery

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