Weight Loss Surgery for Teens in Perth
Weight Loss Surgery for teens is part of the service offering here at Mercy Bariatrics with it’s own dedicated program….. ” Teen Time Bariatrics “.
Obesity as a teen can become a real struggle. If you experience health challenges, and obesity impacts your relationships and self-esteem, then it might be worth exploring options such as bariatric surgery (or obesity surgery) for teens.
Is Weight Loss Surgery For Teens Available in Perth?
Weight loss surgery for teens is getting its own dedicated program in Perth. Each year, about 2,000 West Australians undergo weight loss surgery in Perth. Only a handful of these, perhaps 10 to 20, are under the age of 18, and very few are younger than 16.
There is currently no adolescent or teen bariatric surgery practice at Perth Children’s Hospital and the Joondalup public bariatric service only accepts patients over 18.
At Mercy Bariatrics we have operated on several younger patients between the ages of 16-18 over the last 15 years with very satisfying outcomes, and we have watched the worldwide trend to offer bariatric surgery to younger patients.
This general evolution in weight loss surgery for teens made us start thinking that we needed to pay more attention to this age group and develop a teen focussed bariatric program, because teenage thinking, learning and motivation are clearly different to adults.
Over the last year ( 2018) we have worked with experts at PCH, other surgical units and our own team to develop Western Australia’s first teen centric bariatric surgery program: Teen Time Bariatrics.
What Does Science Say About Weight Loss Surgery For Adolescents?
There is mounting scientific evidence supporting the use of bariatric surgery in young teens and adolescents. This is based on over 50 years experience with adult bariatrics and a growing understanding of the seriousness and the extent of obesity in adolescents.
Here in the Teen Time Bariatrics section of our website, we explore the scientific conclusions, which are now generally accepted:
- The rates of obesity are growing amongst teenagers and more than 25% of Australian adolescents are now either overweight or obese.
- The likelihood of being overweight or obese is largely set in childhood. You don’t grow out of your ‘puppy fat’!
- As with adults, diet and exercise programs do not tend to have a lasting, effective or significant impact on obesity in the majority of teens.
- Obesity is not a benign condition in adolescents. It is associated with a large number of physical, psychological and educational problems which can have a huge impact on health and lifespan.
- Weight loss surgery is now proven to be the most effective treatment for severe obesity when other conservative measures have failed.
Am I a Candidate?
There are some general recommendations, now adopted by scientific bodies both here and in America, which inform us about who should be considered a candidate for surgery. In reality, the recommendations are very similar for both adults and teenagers..
We have set an age range between 16 – 18 for our adolescent program. The American guidelines recommend surgery for children as young as ten years in selected circumstances, but there are some practical limitations (eg access to paediatric ICU resources) which have set this lower threshold.
We will consider patients at age 15, to assess and prepare on our Teen time preparation program, but surgery will generally be delayed until their 16th birthday. The advantage of this approach is it can at least stabilise weight gain and treat associated illness until they are ready for surgery, when they turn 16.
Despite strong lobbying of the private Hospitals in Perth we have not found them to be supportive of adolescents between 14-16. This situation may change as support for adolescent bariatrics grows.
There is no evidence to support any benefits of delaying weight loss surgery for teens until after puberty…. In fact as the morbidly obese child often enters puberty at a younger age this potentially robs them of the additional few years of childhood growth. Surgery does not seem to harm the process of puberty
In adults and teens over 14 years of age, BMI is a reasonable arbiter of weight as it takes into account both weight and height. So, as a general indication as to whether someone is a candidate, these are the BMI values we use:
- BMI > 40
- BMI > 35 with a serious Obesity related comorbidity.
In children, because their height is rising over time, a more accurate measure is taken from weight charts and how they compare to the rest of the population. This is reflected in “Centiles” or a “z score”: which is how many standard deviations above the 50th percentile the child is in for weight and age.
So in children under 14, these would be the values that help define if weight loss surgery for teens may be advised: A “z score” greater than two or a weight greater than 140% above the 95th percentile for their age.
You can use this link to calculate your “z score”: Body Mass Index (BMI) and Z-Score Calculation in Children
3. Health Comorbordities
- Type 2 diabetes
- Severe sleep apnoea
- Fatty liver
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Orthopaedic problems related to being overweight
4. Ability To Understand
The implications of the adolescents’ obesity on their general health, the way in which surgery works and the potential risks, and what may happen if they do or don’t have surgery.
This is why we want to spend adequate time educating and informing our teenage patients, so that they can truly give informed consent, and are motivated by their own intention, not from others.
Weight Loss Surgery At Teen Time Bariatrics: What To Expect?
Bariatric surgery is not like other surgery. It requires a holistic approach and the input from a whole team of people to get you ready for surgery and support you.
We also need to devote enough time to adequately educate and prepare you and commit to follow-up over the first vital few years following surgery to make sure you have a fantastic result.
This is why we have this motto:
Teen Time Bariatrics?
Team Time Bariatrics!
So that’s the how and the why. When it comes to the what, we believe that sleeve gastrectomy will be the best go-to operation for morbid obesity in teens.
Watch my video on the specific weight loss surgery type called ‘Sleeve Gastrectomy’.
Why Choose Teen Time Bariatrics For Your Weight Loss Treatment?
The team at Mercy Bariatrics build on our years of experience, as one of the pioneering practices offering Sleeve Gastrectomy procedures in Western Australia. If weight loss surgery for teens is relevant for your teenage child, or you as an adolescent are considering it, then you can count on a whole team to support you.
We believe that you deserve a personalised program, not just a clone of the process used for adults. We work with you to explain the process and to prepare you. We also support you so you get the best possible results. If you have any questions, get in touch with our team and we will be happy to help you.