Surgery is no quick fix for obese teens

Posted by: admin on: December 15, 2011

With a high standard of living, array of fast foods and sedentary lifestyle, obesity has become the biggest disease plaguing the teenagers. Bariatric surgery done is not the final answer. Here is a study.


At 16, Shaina weighed 242 pounds. She also had developed a complication of obesity in which pressure builds up within the skull, damaging the optic nerve.
The only solution for Shaina, who had already started to suffer vision loss, was to lose weight — fast.
A doctor recommended bariatric surgery, and Shaina had the procedure in February 2011. Three months later, she is down to 184 pounds — the first time she can remember weighing less than 200 — and has gone from a size 20 to a 12.

Success stories like Shaina — and those of celebrities like Al Roker and Star Jones — might make bariatric surgery look easy. It’s not. In fact, doctors are so concerned that teens might have unrealistic expectations that they require extensive presurgery evaluation and lifestyle changes to ensure that teens understand the serious risks, are dedicated to overhauling their health, and don’t take the procedure lightly.
Surgery usually requires preliminary weight loss and then a strict postsurgical regimen of dietary changes, vitamins, and exercise. If the teen and his family aren’t fully committed, the results can evaporate quickly or fail to materialize in the first place.

Not a cosmetic procedure
Bariatric surgery is not for the moderately overweight. Although there are no consensus national guidelines for bariatric surgery for adolescents, doctors generally follow the same national guidelines for adults: The patient should have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher (for example, someone 5’4″ would have to weigh at least 233 pounds to qualify), or a BMI of 35 (a weight of 204 for someone 5’4″) or greater with serious obesity-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes.

“We worry a lot if we have a child who thinks the surgery is going to be a magic fix,” says Eleanor Mackey, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Obesity Institute at Children’s National Medical Center, who evaluates young people considering the surgery.
It takes a team of pediatricians, psychologists, exercise physiologists, dietitians, and social workers to get a true sense of whether a teen is ready for the surgery and to help that patient prepare for the surgery and follow-up.
For instance, surgeons typically require that a patient make lifestyle changes– becoming more active and eating healthier — before undergoing the surgery.

Life after surgery

The post-surgery recovery is no picnic. Patients stick to a liquid diet for weeks and then gradually phase in solid food.
“You really have to learn the difference between listening to your stomach and listening to your head,” says Montanti
Because bariatric surgery limits the amount of food patients can eat, adequate nutrition after surgery is important. Teen and adult patients alike need to take vitamins and minerals following surgery, in some cases for the rest of their lives. Iron is a common deficiency that puts patients at risk of anemia.

Malnutrition is a major concern for patients who undergo a type of bariatric surgery called gastric bypass, in which part of the stomach and small intestine gets bypassed, says Nadler.
In addition, patients have to follow other diet rules, especially in the months after surgery, to avoid malnutrition, dehydration, and weight gain. These include eating regular, high-protein meals and not drinking liquids close to mealtime.
Starting an exercise program is equally important for post-surgery weight loss.

Making changes without surgery
Sometimes just the process of preparing for surgery is enough to trigger serious lifestyle changes that can help teens avoid it.




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