Article

Adolescent bariatric surgery: ANZ guidance and recommendations

Vascular and Hypertension - Obesity Research, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
ANZ Journal of Surgery (Impact Factor: 1.12). 12/2011; 81(12):854-5. DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-2197.2011.05897.x
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Background Bariatric surgery for children and adolescents is becoming widespread. However, the evidence is still scarce and of poor quality, and many of the patients are too young to consent. This poses a series of moral challenges, which have to be addressed both when considering bariatric surgery introduced as a health care service and when deciding for treatment for young individuals. A question based (Socratic) approach is applied to reveal underlying moral issues that can be relevant to an open and transparent decision making process. Discussion A wide range of moral issues with bariatric surgery for children and adolescents is identified in the literature. There is a moral imperative to help obese minors avoiding serious health problems, but there is little high quality evidence on safety, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness for bariatric surgery in this group. Lack of maturity and family relations poses a series of challenges with autonomy, informed consent, assent, and assessing the best interest of children and adolescents. Social aspects of obesity, such as medicalization, prejudice, and discrimination, raise problems with justice and trust in health professionals. Conceptual issues, such as definition of obesity and treatment end-points, present moral problems. Hidden interests of patients, parents, professionals, industry, and society need to be revealed. Summary Performing bariatric surgery for obese children and adolescents in order to discipline their behavior warrants reflection and caution. More evidence on outcomes is needed to be able to balance benefits and risks, to provide information for a valid consent or assent, and to advise minors and parents.
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    ABSTRACT: The increased frequency of extreme forms of obesity in adolescents and the disappointing results of conventional treatments are now leading pediatricians to consider bariatric or cosmetic surgery as the only real long-term effective therapeutic alternative. The two main techniques currently used for bariatric surgery in adolescents are gastric bypass and adjustable gastric banding. Whatever the technique, weight loss is significant with improvement of comorbidities and quality of life. In addition, the complications are identical to those in adults and equally frequent. However, because of the particularities of this age, caution is still required. Adolescence is indeed characterized by specific nutritional needs, but also changes in body image in which surgery could have a negative effect. Currently, all obese teenagers making a request for bariatric surgery should have a comprehensive assessment with global care for at least 6 months. The indication is then discussed on a case-by-case basis by multidisciplinary teams and experts. To date, the type of surgery (gastric banding, gastric sleeve, or bypass) is still widely discussed. Based on experience with adults, we believe that gastric sleeve and bypass should be preferred. In addition, obesity in adolescents almost always involves psychosocial consequences, while somatic complications are rare. Thus, the care of adipo- or gynecomastia, abdominal fat excess, and concealed penis is essential and therefore justifies cosmetic surgery.
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