Considering weight loss surgery for teens
Why would I consider surgery to lose weight?
If you are between 13 and 18, you may have heard about our weight loss program for teenagers in Perth. If you struggle with obesity, it may impact your overall health and happiness. Many teenagers tell us that it affects their life on so many levels…… It’s not just how you feel when you look in the mirror!
We also know that obesity causes other related health problems, and that then means you can’t do the activities other teenagers are doing. Obesity is often associated with self-esteem issues, and if you have tried different things to lose weight, you may feel a bit overwhelmed and…well, simply not happy about where you are at.
Candidate weight loss surgery for teens
Can I have the surgery as a teenager here in Perth?
No, your surgery will be done in Adelaide. Teen Time Bariatrics in Perth provides all the necessary preparation prior to your surgery, as well as the follow-up after surgery.
Unfortunately, at this moment, Western Australia’s Private Hospitals will not accept patients younger than 18 to have Bariatric surgery. That’s why you need to fly to Adelaide for the actual surgery.
Over the last 20 years, we have seen quite a few patients younger than 18, with very satisfying outcomes.
This is what we have learned from working with teenagers from all around Western Australia:
- You are in a different place compared to let’s say a 40-year-old patient simply because you are young.
- The way you think about losing weight, changing your lifestyle, building your self-esteem, is also very different compared to an older patient.
- Thinking about surgery at your age is not a quick process. You deserve clear information, support, and counselling to fully understand how it works and what it will do to your body.
Our dedicated teen program offers weight loss surgery under clearly defined circumstances. We have collected all the findings and experience of those 20 years in our Teen Time Bariatrics program, so it addresses your way of handling the information, your motivation process, and the aspects of surgery that are important to you as a teenager.
In other words: this is designed for you! We also worked on the program with other experts at Perth Children’s Hospital and other surgical units. That is why we can call ourselves Western Australia’s first weight loss surgery program that is specifically designed for adolescents.
In case you are interested in facts and figures: each year about 10 to 20 people under 18 have weight loss surgery in Western Australia, compared to 2000 adults. Yet there are thousands of teenagers out there who are just as deserving to consider this option and would qualify for this surgery.
Science and weight loss surgery for teens
Is this backed by science?
The first question we often get – also from parents – is about the scientific data behind this. You want to know that your surgery is backed by data, and performed by a specialist who is familiar with the latest scientific research.
This is what specialists and bariatric surgeons agree on as a summary of the most recent scientific conclusions on weight loss surgery for teenagers.
- More than 1 in 4 Australian teenagers are now overweight or obese. It follows a global trend with more young people suffering from obesity.
- The fact that you develop a weight problem is often linked to your childhood.
- In most teens, diet and exercise programs alone won’t solve the problem of obesity.
- Teen age obesity is not something you will “Just grow out of”
- Obesity in teenagers is not harmless. We now know that a serious weight problem is associated with other problems: physical, psychological, and problems related to education.
- Weight loss surgery is proven to be the most effective approach to treat obesity in teens when other treatment plans have not been successful.
The team here at Teen Time Bariatrics uses the experience of our own 15 years in weight loss programs for adolescents, and the information we get from international research.
This means that as a young (future) patient, a parent, a GP, or a health specialist, you can rest assured that we follow a comprehensive program when we discuss weight loss surgery for someone under 18.
Age for bariatric surgery
What age do you have to be to get weight loss surgery?
There is universal agreement amongst experts in adolescent medicine that bariatric surgery is beneficial and should be offered to adolescents.
ANZMOSS, the Australian & New Zealand Metabolic and Obesity Surgery Society, recommends that the option of bariatric surgery should be considered for severely obese adolescents.
“It is recommended that surgery as a treatment option be considered from 14 years in certain circumstances.”
ANZMOSS recommendation for bariatric surgery in adolescents in Australia and New Zealand – May 2022.
In the United States, weight loss surgery can be made available for children as young as ten years in specific situations.
The decision to allow younger patients to have this surgery however is often linked to the willingness of hospitals to accept patients at a younger age. That is why the surgery in 14-18yr olds will need to be done in Adelaide with Dr Chisolm and the Adelaide Bariatric Centre.
Thanks to our collaboration with Adelaide Bariatric Centre, we can now offer bariatric surgery to Perth teens aged 14-18.
If you are 13, you may be considered to enter the program. We then plan your Teen Time preparation program, so you are completely ready on your 14th birthday. It is not a waste of time, because we work together to stabilise your weight gain and to treat any other health conditions that you may experience. It means that you are in the best possible condition for when you turn 14 and have weight loss surgery.
Delaying surgery until after puberty – science tells us – does not offer any benefits. Surgery does not seem to harm the process of puberty, and there is even a connection with growth. Obese children often enter puberty at a younger age, and that means some of your additional ‘childhood growth’ simply doesn’t happen before puberty kicks in.
This is why it is important to only consider weight loss surgery for teens, in an environment where you have access to all recent data and to an experienced team.
Weight for weight loss surgery for teens
How much do you have to weigh to get obesity surgery?
If you are 14 and older, we look for a BMI of over 40 or if you have a BMI between 35 and 40 with significant obesity related illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, Sleep Apnoea Fatty Liver and some Obesity related Orthopaedic problems. You can calculate your BMI here.
If that number is over 40, then you may be eligible. If your BMI is over 35 and you have any other illness that is directly linked to your weight problem, you may be eligible as well.
Typical conditions you may have, linked to obesity, include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Severe sleep apnoea
- Fatty liver
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Orthopaedic problems related to weight
Teen Time Perth
What to expect from our weight loss clinic?
If you are under 18 and looking into a suitable treatment plan for obesity in Perth, one of the key things to look at is education. Does the treatment plan give you enough information?
Weight loss surgery as a teenager needs preparation and follow-up and that is why we have developed a program. It is not just a clone of the procedure for adults; it’s a teen centric and team based approach to make sure that you get support at every stage of the journey.
Planning a weight loss treatment plan with Teen Time Bariatrics is not just about the kilos lost. We want to make sure you feel well supported and that you and your family are comfortable before, during and after your procedure.
If you have any questions, contact our team. We look forward to hearing from you!