Although the overwhelming majority of bariatric surgeries are being performed in adults, a relatively small number of teenagers have undergone the procedure. However, this is major surgery, and the decision to have the operation should not be made hastily.
Candidates for Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is advisable only for extremely overweight adolescents for whom more conservative weight loss measures haven’t worked, particularly if they also have developed serious obesity-related medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea.
Your pediatrician can provide an initial assessment of whether your teenager might be a candidate for surgery.
Referral to a Weight Loss Surgeon
If the pediatrician refers you for a consultation to a weight loss surgeon, make sure that there is a team available to help assess your teens and the family’s readiness for surgery. The team should include at least a pediatrician, surgeon, psychologist, nutritionist, exercise trainer, and social worker.
You and your teenager will have the opportunity to discuss the potential benefits of the operation, plus get your questions answered about the complications sometimes associated with the operation, such as infections, bleeding, blood clots, vitamin deficiencies, and weight regain. See table below.
Possible Complications of Bariatric Surgery
- Bowel perforation
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Dumping syndrome
- Small bowel obstruction
- Anastomotic leak
- Anastomotic stricture
- Abdominal adhesions
- Protein deficiency
- Vitamin/mineral deficiencies
- Intraoperative conversion to open gastronomy
- Port infection
- Stomal obstruction
- Late mechanical dysfunction
- Hiatal hernia
- Band or port slippage