24 Obesity surgery works for teenagers

An ongoing study based out of the University of Cincinnati confirms that weight loss surgery is safe and helps teenagers lose weight and become healthy.

The story in this newspaper article focuses on the success of one teenager. It quotes a pretty good study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

My opinion as Dr Dirk is that the study confirms what we bariatric surgeons have known and experienced for years. Obesity surgery is safe for teenagers. It helps them lose weight and helps them become healthy.

While the study is not complete for the long term effects, it has over 3 years of good information and the results are good. First there have been no deaths. This means experienced weight loss surgeons have been performing the surgery. Second, the health and weight loss benefits have been almost equal to that found in adults. Third – unfortunately the study only looked at the Lap Band and the gastric bypass, it did not include the Gastric Sleeve Surgery.

My biggest gripe of the study is that at the conclusion of the scientific article, without the benefit of science, the authors state that it is best to only do obesity surgery on teenagers when they have developed HEALTH PROBLEMS!

Why wait until a teenager has developed a medical condition. That only increases the risk of surgery. This makes no sense. In the very same study the authors clearly say that, “lifestyle changes and medicine do not work”. Maybe a little brain fart on their part. Perhaps the remaining prejudice that, “ooooohhhh, surgery is drastic”. Whatever!

Regardless, the science is in. Many different types of obesity surgery works for adults and now we know it works for teenagers.

As you have read on my blog, surgery will make good nutrition and exercise more effective.

I strongly emphasize the participation of the parents and family in this process. This is a big decision for the entire family. The entire family must help the teenager succeed. However, the surgery technology and experience has advanced to such a point where the “worry”about surgery in no longer a worry.

I encourage parents of obese teenagers to come visit with me (in person or over the phone) to discuss the  health benefits of obesity surgery.

BIG TAKE AWAY – Weight Loss Surgery for teenagers works!