What is the Minimum Age for Bariatric Surgery?

The relentless promotion of fast-food, increasingly artificial foods in our diet, increasingly sedentary lifestyles and a lack of outdoor activities all work together to form a nexus that many young people find it hard to escape. The lack of education about the impact of diet and nutrition on health is becoming a reality that is all too prevalent in our modern society, the biggest victim of this are our children.

Obesity Causes Reduced Fertility in Adults but What Does it Do To Children?

The medical reality of severe obesity is that it has a negative effect on our health. Research shows that there are life-changing implications for growth and puberty in obese children, these range from mental challenges arising from lower self-esteem to medical problems like the increased risk of type 2 diabetes, blood pressure and heart disease. In male children, obesity can cause lowered testosterone, which in itself leads to increased adiposity, as well as increased cortisol production over time which in turn results in decreased testosterone production.

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Is Weight Loss Surgery a Solution?

Surgery should usually be the final option, since it is inherently a risk to undergo any kind of surgery. When considering weight loss surgery or metabolic and bariatric surgery for weight loss it would be best to reserve this option for severe obesity. The risk reward calculation that parents should consider should be informed by a solid understanding of the developmental role of important hormones during puberty and adolescence.

Reduced hormone production has been shown in multiple studies such as the one conducted by Buffalo's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences which found that "Obese teen boys have up to 50% less testosterone than lean boys", and obesity has been shown to track from childhood into adulthood, bringing with it increased risk of morbidity and mortality in both sexes, including diabetes, coronary heart disease, atherosclerosis, hip fracture and gout.

Overweight children can be induced to achieve a healthier weight by making lifestyle improvements and increasing exercise and physical activity, however as the BMI of the child exceeds 35, this becomes an increasingly unrealistic solution and bariatric surgery could be considered the most expedient option for achieving weight loss that would bring the child's weight down to a healthier amount and mitigate the risk and incidence of obesity related issues in later life.

Before considering bariatric surgery, it is important to understand the different options, the expected impact and weight loss surgery in general. In this blog article, you can learn more about bariatric surgery, eligibility and what to expect before and after the surgery.


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    What is Bariatric Surgery?

    Bariatric Surgery is an umbrella name for Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries. Bariatric surgery involves changing your digestive system to help you lose weight.

    Bariatric surgery is recommended when exercise and diet haven't worked or when you have serious health problems because of your weight.

    There are different kinds of bariatric surgery, they include:

    Endoscopic Gastric Balloon

    The endoscopic gastric balloon as a non-surgical procedure that is aimed at limiting the amount of food consumed by the patient, using a balloon placed in the stomach.

    Sleeve gastrectomy:

    Also called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, Sleeve gastrectomy involves inserting small instruments through multiple small incisions in the upper abdomen.

    Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS):

    This procedure isn't common, and it involves two steps:

    • Sleeve Gastrectomy
    • Joining the end part of the intestine to the duodenum

    Although these steps are usually performed as a single procedure, in rare circumstances, the procedures may be performed as two separate operations.

    Risks of this surgery include malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies


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    Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty

    The endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty reduces the size of a patient's stomach by using what is called an endoscopic suturing device. This method eliminates the need for surgery or removal of part of the stomach.

    Gastric Bypass Surgery:

    Gastric bypass surgery (also known as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass) is one of today's most common bariatric procedures. This type of surgery takes out a large portion of the stomach and re-directs the flow of food into the small intestine.

    This surgery is an effective way to lose weight for people who are severely obese. It involves taking out part of the stomach and rerouting food through a smaller opening in the small intestine. The procedure has been shown to produce long-lasting results.

    If you are overweight and have tried other weight loss methods without success, gastric bypass surgery might be right for you. This is not to say this surgery is for everyone. People at high risk for complications should talk to their doctor first.

    The risks linked with gastric bypass surgery are generally minor and temporary. Patients who undergo GBP experience some degree of discomfort during recovery, such as soreness, swelling, bruising, and nausea. However, these discomforts usually fade within a few days.

    Before undergoing gastric bypass surgery, patients must meet specific requirements. These include being between 20 and 50 years old, having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 kg/m2, and having previous attempts to lose weight through diet and exercise. Patients also need to have a history of severe obesity and an endoscopy showing that they have a large stomach.

    What is the Minimum Age for Bariatric Surgery?

    The minimum age for bariatric surgery is generally 16 years old. (exceptions apply)

    The maximum age for bariatric surgery is age 70 (exceptions may apply)

    Apart from your age, there are other criteria you must meet.

    To be suitable to undergo bariatric surgery treatment, you must meet the following criteria as per DHA Guidelines:

    • You must have a BMI > 40 kg/m2 (with or without the presence of one or more medical problems)
    • You must have a BMI ≥ 35-39.9 kg/m2 (with one or more medical problems)
    • You must have a BMI ≥ 30-34.9 kg/m2 (with two or more medical problems)

    Risks of Bariatric Surgery

    Like any other major procedure, bariatric surgery comes with health risks.

    Some of the risks include

    • Infection
    • Dumping syndrome
    • Excessive bleeding
    • Bowel obstruction
    • Gallstones
    • Breathing or Lung problems
    • Extreme reactions to anesthesia
    • Hernia
    • Ulcer
    • Gastrointestinal leaks
    • Malnutrition
    • Low blood sugar
    • The need for a corrective surgery
    • Death (this occurs very rarely)

    Benefits of Bariatric Surgery

    Gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries can offer lasting weight loss.

    However, the weight you lose depends on the type of bariatric surgery you go for. It also depends on your change in lifestyle habits.

    It is possible to lose half, or even more, of your excess weight within two years.

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