Criteria for Weight Loss Surgery in Teenagers - Obesity Surgery Guide

There are a series of guidelines which must be followed before any decision is made:

  • The teenager must have tried a weight management programme, prescribed by their G.P for at least six months.  If this has failed then they may be eligible. 
  • They must have reached physical maturity in that their skeleton is fully formed.  This usually happens at age 13 for girls and age 15 for boys.
  • They are what are classed as ‘severely obese' with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of more than 40.  However, due to the increase in obesity in teenagers this may be less restrictive.

And, as mentioned above, they must be prepared to follow a diet and exercise regime as well as any psychological assessments.

Weight loss surgery may be ruled out for teenagers who can be treated non-surgically, or are unable or unwilling to make the required lifestyle change.  If a teenager has been involved in some form of drug abuse then this too will make them ineligible for this treatment. 

In any case, you will need to discuss this with your G.P first.
What will also happen is that your G.P will arrange for a series of tests to determine whether the chronic weight problem is riskier than the surgery.  These may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Bone age tests (to determine skeletal maturity)
  • Pregnancy tests (girls)
  • Tests for vitamin/mineral deficiencies

and other relevant procedures. The surgery is usually performed on teenagers aged 14 or upwards.

The next issue is of what type of surgery is best for the teenager.  Generally there are two options: gastric banding and gastric bypass.