Obesity Surgery

It is an undeniable fact that obesity has become a global epidemic and is wreaking havoc on our society as mortality rates soar. Approximately 30% of the general population is considered obese, but it doesn’t stop there. An unprecedented 15% of young people are afflicted as well, leaving their budding lives scarred emotionally, physically, and psychologically. 
Contrary to the unbelievable number of claims for products that miraculously take off the pounds, there is no magic cure for obesity. However, there is an option. Obesity surgery is becoming increasingly popular despite the many side effects. 
Obesity surgery is only for those people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more or are suffering from a disabling condition due to excess weight. Morbidly obese people who are unable to lose weight by any other method often turn to this major surgery as a last resort. However, the younger generation soon may not have this option. Physicians are becoming very reluctant to perform obesity surgery on patients younger than 18 because of the lack of knowledge about the long-term side effects. The serious short-term consequences are a deterrent as well. The absolute minimum age recommended is 13 in girls and 15 in boys. The youngest patient on record who underwent obesity surgery was a 12-year-old girl. 
The rate of obesity surgeries has multiplied unbelievably with over 170,000 done yearly. There are no reliable statistics on how many of these were performed on teenagers, but a definite increase was noted. Costs for the surgery range anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 (depending on the type), with the average being $30,000. If complications develop, obesity surgery may cost $65,000 or more. The effects, however, may be priceless for some. Adult patients lose an average of 70% of their excess body weight, while teenagers show even more promise at 82%. For a few patients, the results are devastating and the little weight they lose is quickly regained. 
There are 2 main types of obesity surgery: those that reduce the size of the stomach and those that reduce absorption of calories in the small intestine. Gastric bypass is a combination of the two and is the most common type done. All require a lifelong commitment to making drastic changes in eating habits and lifestyle. Obesity surgery is beset with many risks and for young people, this may mean permanent stunting of growth. 2% of patients die from the surgery and 40% develop complications within six months. 
Complications range from infection, respiratory problems and bleeding, to vomiting, hernias and stomach obstruction. Many patients develop anemia or osteoporosis in the long term and have to constantly take supplements. Obesity-related illnesses, such as diabetes, are often resolved, though. Considering only the short-term effects, young people actually have fewer risk factors in developing complications from obesity surgery if they follow all the recommendations. 
Overall, obesity surgery remains highly controversial. Many argue that the psychological benefits of feeling human again far outweigh the disadvantages, especially for teenagers. There is always the possibility of regaining the weight lost or developing serious complications. Much of the success of obesity surgery depends on choosing an experienced physician and complying with orders. Obesity surgery has greatly improved over the years and for many, those unwanted pounds have become a thing of the past.