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Bariatric Surgery- The Latest Weight Loss Trend for Teens

The problem of obesity in American teenagers is rising at an alarming rate, and some researchers believe that the quality of life for these young people who are excessively overweight can be compared to that of adolescents with cancer.

In addition, obese teens suffer from various types of social alienation, particularly in a culture that puts so much emphasis on physical appearance.
While overweight young people are proving successful at losing up to 22 pounds – some with the help of diet drugs – this amount of weight loss is considered just minimal, as many teenagers need to lose much more than that.  

Just like for adults, there are serious health risks associated with obesity in teenagers, including heart disease, diabetes, and sleep disorders.
Many teenagers who have tried to lose excess pounds without success are turning to weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, as a solution. Lap Band surgery has now become one of the most sought-after types of weight loss surgery among teens. The average cost of Lap Band surgery is about $30,000, and an increasing number of insurance companies are now covering the cost.

Most bariatric surgeons perform the Lap Band surgery using a laparoscope, a device with a camera attached that allows the surgeon to see into the abdomen. In the typical Lap Band surgery, three or four small incisions are made in the abdomen, and then a band is inserted around the top portion of the stomach in order to form a small pouch.
As a result of this restriction in the stomach, the patient is only able to eat a small amount before feeling full. This is an effective type of appetite control, and for most people a large amount of weight can be lost soon after the procedure. Lap Band surgery patients typically lose as much as 65 pounds.

However, regardless of the successful weight loss that has been reported among teenagers who have had Lap Band surgery, surgeons still caution that the procedure should still be considered the last option when all others steps have failed. Dieting should still be tried initially, perhaps with the support of a teen weight loss group, behavior modification or other forms of therapy, or even some type of diet camp. If none of these work, the next approach would be medication. And only when all other attempts at weight loss have proved futile should weight loss surgery be considered for a teenager.

While Lap Band surgery for teens is currently the preferred surgical weight loss treatment for many teens, a number of bariatric surgeons are recommending that their teenage patients choose to have the gastric bypass surgery instead.
Gastric bypass involves surgically forming a small pouch at the top of the stomach, and rerouting the small intestine to the top of the stomach, rather than the bottom. This procedure causes food to bypass the lower portion of the stomach.
The gastric bypass procedure is far more invasive and requires a longer recovery period, but since this surgery has been done for years, the benefits and risks are more clearly defined than for other types of bariatric surgery.

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