According to the Journal of American Medicine, the first controlled trial has studied the different outcomes of Lap Band surgery versus lifestyle changes in a study of 14-18 year olds, while following their progress over two years.
There were 50 participants and 42 completed the study. These were randomly devided into two groups. One group consisted of 24 teens who underwent gastric band and the other group consisted of 18 young patients who followed a lifestyle intervention program.
The average weight loss of the teens in the Lap Band group was 76 pounds, while those in the lifestyle group lost an average of 7 pounds. Those in the group with Lap Bands also had a reversal of comorbidity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea.
Dr. O’Brien, the National Medical Director for the American Institute of Gastric Banding, believes that medicine should be practiced using the most basic and simple approach. If for some reason the simple approach doesn’t work, then move on to the next most basic approach.
There are some doctors who will put a Lap Band on a child younger than 14, but Dr. O’Brien does not do this. He believes that children don’t stop growing until at least 14, and also wants his patients to have a level of maturity which allows them to comprehend what it is they are preparing for.
The Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery at New York Performed its 100th Gastric Banding on a Teen
Dr. Zitsman, the Director for The Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, believes along the same lines as Dr. O’Brien in that an adolescent needs to be at least 14 years old before undergoing any type of elective weight loss surgery. He also requires patients to have a BMI of 40 or greater, with comorbidities. He requires all of his patients to undergo a six month screening process to determine whether or not the child has any type of behavioral or psychological problems. If they do, they are not a candidate for surgery.
Potential patients are required to meet with Dr. Zitsman, a nutritionist, and the psychiatric team. The patient is then followed for 3-6 months to make sure that they are able to make dietary changes and increase their level of activity prior to surgery. The team wants to make sure that the patient is willing to make the necessary changes to be ready for laparoscopic gastric banding.
Compliance for Teens with Gastric Banding Poses a Problem
As many teens wish to fit in with their peers, some who have had gastric banding are finding this difficult. When they go out with their friends that may be eating large amounts of food, such as pizza and sodas, it is hard for them to not want to join in. After having gastric banding it is important that a person eats not only smaller portions, but eats slowly as well. One noted advantage of gastric banding is that it is a completely reversible procedure.
Doctors are also finding that teens tend to relocate more than adults who may stay put due to a job. This is difficult for the doctors who like to follow up with their patients. Many doctors will try to find a new program in the area where the teen has moved, but would prefer to do their own follow ups on their patients as they have a history with them.