Obesity has become a significant health problem all over the world. While the problem doesn’t seem to discriminate based on age, we are seeing more older and very young patients struggling with the disease. Nearly 40% of people aged 51 or older are overweight, and the CDC puts the percentage of children and adolescents struggling with obesity at 17%, which accounts for over 12 million boys and girls!
Obesity can decrease a person’s quality of life no matter how old they are. As people age, obesity can go on to affect their functional independence. Fortunately, there is hope.
Research shows that weight loss surgery is the most effective treatment for obesity that we have today.
But what happens when the patient is over the age of fifty or under the age of 21? Are bariatric procedures appropriate for younger or older men and women?
It helps to look at current research to determine the answer.
What’s the Youngest Someone Can Be to Undergo Bariatric Surgery?
Childhood obesity is a serious problem that is only becoming more prevalent as the years pass. When children develop obesity, they can experience comorbidities just like adults. We are finding many children today who are overweight are also suffering from heart disease and abnormal glucose levels. These issues can follow the child throughout their adult life.
Children with obesity are also more susceptible to mental issues like depression and low self-esteem, both of which can contribute to poor grades in school.
The good news is that weight loss surgery can help children with obesity lose weight. In fact, studies show that weight loss surgeries like the gastric sleeve and gastric bypass are the only safe and effective ways to help preteens and teens struggling with obesity lose weight.
One study showed that teens who undergo weight loss surgery lost around 30% of their original body weight and managed to keep it off for at least eight years.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that comorbidities like type 2 diabetes disappeared in 95% of teens who underwent weight loss surgery and that blood pressure normalized in 80% of younger patients.
Kids with obesity can be considered for bariatric surgery as long as they are 14 years of age or older. The decision to have a child undergo weight loss surgery is a major decision that should only be made with the collaboration of the patient, their family, their doctor, and health experts such as a psychologist, exercise specialist, and dietician.
Can Someone Over Age 50 Undergo Weight Loss Surgery?
The primary concern of any bariatric surgeon is that the patient will develop complications due to advanced age. That is why many surgeons become focused on your age at some point during the consultation stage. The research shows that bariatric surgery is considered safe and feasible for individuals over the age of fifty. Keep in mind that because of your advanced age, you may experience less weight loss and issues with nutrient and vitamin deficiencies. However, as your surgeon may explain to you, the benefits of surgery to your health and longevity far outweigh the risks.
Is Bariatric Surgery Safe for Men and Women Ages 60+?
AARP recently pointed to studies that show that bariatric surgery may be safe for men and women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. Not only can bariatrics improve older patients’ quality of life but losing weight through surgery could help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke for those who already suffer from type 2 diabetes.
Aside from Age, What Qualifies Someone for Weight Loss Surgery?
Weight loss surgery is effective at helping patients drop otherwise stubborn pounds, but the surgery is a serious matter. For that reason, doctors will only recommend surgery for patients who are extremely overweight. Most patients who undergo bariatric procedures are at least 100 pounds overweight. Doctors use the BMI scale to determine a person’s eligibility for bariatric surgery. Patients should have a BMI of 40 or higher, which indicates extreme obesity. Some patients are recommended at 35 BMI if comorbidities are present, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Other than age and BMI, doctors look at:
Ideal patients for bariatric surgery are in good general health. Your doctor may work with you to attempt to improve your health in the months before surgery. Doing so can make surgery more effective and safer for your body.
Your doctor wants to know that you are mentally healthy enough to endure all that goes into weight loss surgery. You may have to deal with some discomfort and pain, as well as long recovery times. You may even experience complications. Can you handle these things? To make sure, your doctor may suggest that you meet with a mental health specialist before recommending you for weight loss surgery.
Your doctor wants to know that you understand fully what’s involved with bariatric surgery and the outcomes you can expect. The actual surgery is only one step in the weight loss process. You should be cognizant of what happens after the operation so you can prepare yourself. Your doctor will discuss these things with you during your initial consultation.
To successfully lose weight after weight loss surgery, you must be committed to living healthily. Eating nutritious foods, consuming smaller portions, and exercising regularly are crucial to the weight loss process. Your doctor may recommend that you visit a dietician and exercise specialist to give you the building blocks to a healthier way of living. If you can’t commit to these things, your weight loss after surgery may not stick, putting you back to square one.
Your doctor will ask if you have the backing of your friends, family members, and other people you can turn to for emotional support. After surgery and beyond, you may feel alone at times. You might feel encumbered by all the obstacles you face as you strive to lose weight and keep it off. Your support group can help you feel less alone and give you the strength to carry on when the going gets tough. Your doctor may also recommend you meet regularly with a weight loss surgery support group. At these meetings, you can share your experiences and gain valuable insight into the weight loss process.
Are You an Ideal Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?
Are you considering weight loss surgery but worry you may get turned away because of your age? Your first step should be to schedule a consultation with an experienced bariatric surgeon. Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics can help you determine if you are an ideal candidate for weight loss surgery.
Dr. Moeinolmolki and his surgical staff are dedicated to helping you feel comfortable throughout every step of the surgical process. From the consultation and surgery to every follow-up visit beyond, you can count on the doctor and his staff to treat you with compassion and respect as you strive to defeat obesity for good. Call us today in Los Angeles, Encino, or Glendale, and choose a consultation time that works best for you – (310)694-4486.