Friday, January 15, 2010

Controversial Weight Loss Surgery Center for Teens Opens !!

One of the few surgeons in the United States who will perform bariatric surgery on teens has opened a center catering to that age group amid controversy over whether or not children should take such drastic measures to curb obesity.

The Rose Medical Center in Denver is one of a small number of hospitals in the nation that has a teens-only bariatric surgery program, according to The Denver Post. Dr. Michael A. Snyder, a bariatric surgeon and director of the center, tells the newspaper that being 17 is hard enough on its own, without the stigma of obesity.

"Being a teen with bariatric surgery is very difficult," he says. "Being a morbidly obese teen is a total nightmare."

The center offers several weeks of pre- and post-surgery sessions on nutrition, psychology and behavioral changes. The criteria for the procedure includes being at least 100 pounds overweight and multiple failed attempts at traditional weight-loss programs.

According to the Post, Snyder has performed as many as 2,800 bariatric surgeries and says he will only operate on kids who "are ready for a life-long commitment." For most teens, he places a Lap-Band, which is tightened over time to reduce the stomach's capacity to between 10 and 20 percent of its original space. The procedure costs about $9,500 and is often not covered by insurance.

The Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery reports that while weight-loss surgery is still uncommon in teens, some doctors will recommend it if a child's weight poses a greater health threat than the potential risks of the surgery. The Web site also quotes a 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics, which revealed that teens who had gastric bypass surgery showed dramatic -- and immediate -- reversal of their type 2 diabetes.

The site also cites guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which includes the criteria that teens should be severely obese -- with a body mass index greater than 40 with serious obesity-related health problems -- before considering weight-loss surgery.

Some physicians object to offering teens bariatric surgery, like Dr. Wendy Scinta, who tells the Post she is "so disgusted" by the trend.

"In children, it's still considered experimental," says Scinta, a pediatric bariatrician on the board of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. She also runs a medical weight loss clinic for children and teens in Syracuse, N.Y.

Should teens be allowed to undergo drastic weight loss surgery?

Related: Should I Have Surgery for Obesity?