Weight Loss Surgery For Teens — Is It Really Possible?

May 30, 2022

People often view weight loss surgery as an easy way out — the answer to all their problems. However, in reality, bariatric surgery should only be considered in cases of extreme weight gain. That is, if you are facing major health concerns and problems in your day-to-day life due to your weight, only then would you qualify for weight reduction surgery.

Moreover, given the complex nature of the procedure, adults are the ones who usually qualify for the surgery. But that doesn’t mean young people cannot get it. Weight loss surgery for teens is possible, although not as common.

To read more about how teenagers can get bariatric surgery and whether or not it is safe, keep on reading this blog.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric or weight loss surgery is an invasive procedure that helps an overweight person lose weight, boosting their overall health and lifestyle. The surgery is only applicable to those who are severely obese or to those who have a BMI of 40 and higher.

There are three main types of bariatric surgery, all of which target different weight loss methods. These can be divided as:

  • Gastric Banding During the surgery for gastric banding, the surgeon ties a band around your stomach, creating a small pouch. This helps to limit how much food you eat, making you feel full after only eating a small portion.
  • Gastric Bypass Gastric bypass is a type of bariatric surgery that aims to restrict the food from being stored in your stomach. It’s an intense procedure where the surgeon reroutes the small intestine through your stomach.
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy This is a weight loss surgery where a major portion of your stomach is cut out, leaving behind a narrow sleeve. The purpose of this surgery is to curb hunger impulses, as the small banana-shaped stomach holds less food and makes you feel full faster.

Can Teenagers Get Weight Loss Surgery?

Although not ideal, teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 can get weight loss surgery. However, that can only happen if they have actively tried to lose weight before or gone through a medically-assisted weight loss program for at least six months.

The FDA does not approve of weight loss surgery for teens, but if someone is in dire need of it, they can still go through with it. There is minimal research on the matter, but according to some studies, weight loss surgery for obese teenagers can serve to be beneficial. For instance, if other medical conditions are linked to one’s weight, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, etc., bariatric surgery can help minimize the symptoms.

Overall, teenagers can get weight loss surgery, but it is advisable to try alternative methods of weight loss instead.

Weight Loss For Teens Is Only Possible If…

As rewarding as it is, bariatric surgery can be just as complicated. A teen can only qualify for weight loss surgery if they:

  • Have a BMI (body-mass index) of 40 or higher.
  • Suffer from obesity-related health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, etc.
  • Are mentally and emotionally aware of the surgery and its effects.
  • Have parents or guardians supporting the surgery.
  • Have gone through puberty and stopped growing.
  • Are able to make the necessary lifestyle changes needed after the procedure.
  • Are mentally stable.
  • Have tried to lose weight before but were unable to see results.
  • Pass a nutritional, psychological, and lifestyle evaluation.

Final Takeaway

To summarize, weight loss surgery for teens may not be the most viable option, but it is still possible in cases of extreme obesity. For more information, contact Nova Bariatrics at (469) 639-0953. You can also visit us for an in-person evaluation at 1081 Kinwest Pkwy STE 110, Irving, TX 75063, United States.

Dr. Mustafa H. Alibhai

Dr. Alibhai, a board-certified general surgeon, passionately leads Nova Bariatrics and Minimally Invasive Surgery. Formerly an Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, he’s a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons. His academic journey includes a Bachelor’s from Southern Methodist University, Medical School at UT Southwestern, and residencies at UT Southwestern. Specializing further, he completed Bariatric and Robotic Fellowships, advancing surgical techniques with a focus on patient well-being.

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