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Can Teenagers Undergo Weight Loss Surgery?

Jeremy Korman';

By Jeremy Korman

Posted on July 28th, 2020 in Weight Loss

In the United States, obesity affects 13.7 million children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 19. The prevalence of teenage obesity is up to 19%, which is a very alarming fact.

It was found that Hispanics and African-Americans had a higher risk of becoming obese than the rest of the population.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14% of children between the ages of 2 and 5 were overweight or obese, 19% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 had excessive body weight and over 20% of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 19 struggled with extra pounds.

However, if severe obesity is present, teenagers can undergo gastric sleeve surgery or gastric bypass, as these are the only bariatric procedures that are safe for adolescents. Regardless of their age, teenagers are eligible for bariatric surgery if:

  • they have a body mass index of 40 or higher
  • if they struggle with health issues associated with excess body weight, such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, or liver disease

Furthermore, adolescents who have 100 pounds over their ideal body weight also qualify for bariatric surgery.

However, before deciding to undergo bariatric surgery as a teenager, it is highly recommended to try to lose the excess body weight by having a balanced diet and by exercising on a daily basis, as challenging as that may be for someone who struggles with obesity. Nevertheless, because obese teenagers are more susceptible to develop a series of potentially fatal health issues, bariatric surgery may be the only option in some cases. The following are only some of the diseases and health problems adolescents who are obese may develop as a result of their excess body weight:

  • high blood pressure
  • joint problems
  • sleep apnea
  • breathing problems
  • psychosocial effects
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • musculoskeletal discomfort
  • fatty liver disease
  • anxiety
  • depression

There are multiple factors that lead to obesity among teenagers, such as genes, metabolism, socioeconomic aspects, and lifestyle choices. In teenagers, obesity is diagnosed by employing the following criteria:

  • having a body mass index of 30 or higher
  • having a body mass index which is the 95th percentile for their age and gender
  • having a family history of obesity
  • struggling with health problems caused by obesity, such as high blood pressure

In addition to undergoing bariatric surgery, teenagers can also benefit from the following after they undergo a weight loss procedure, which will ensure that they keep losing their extra pounds and that they will avoid gaining weight again:

  • diet counseling
  • a program of vigorous exercise
  • changes in diet
  • individual or group therapy
  • behavior changes
  • support and encouragement

The medical professionals involved in the process of losing weight are nutritionists, mental health specialists, and exercise experts. Nonetheless, the support of their family and friends is also of the utmost importance throughout their weight loss journey, as encouragement can be a powerful motivational factor.

Teenage Patients Testimonials

Weighing 260 pounds, Sebastian G. came to Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital to undergo sleeve gastrectomy, as his health was at risk because of the complications he developed as a consequence of having excess body weight. "I know I need to focus on the outcome and realize no matter how hard it is, that the results are worth it", he says. The bariatric procedure was performed by Dr. Jeremy Korman and so far, the patient has lost over 75 pounds. He is also on a strict diet and exercise plan, which is bound to make him lost all the extra weight he carries eventually.

Another case involves the Colone family, a mother, and two daughters who all had excess body weight. Because their quality of life was very poor, they also decided to undergo sleeve gastrectomy. The daughters were struggling with sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. "I'm looking forward to a totally different life. Thanks, Mom, for taking the lead - our whole family's going to be happier", say the two children.