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Weight loss option for teens that could be a game changer

Until recently, weight loss surgery could only help morbidly obese men and women lose the weight they need to get healthy. A surgery called gastrectomy may be the answer for some.

Micaela Chapa’s weight has been her nightmare ever since can remember. “I would wear dark, baggy clothes because I just didn’t like how I felt and I tried everything to lose weight my entire life. I was in weight watchers when I was 9 years old.” Chapa said.

Co-captain of her water polo team, Chapa fought off oncoming pounds with any and every diet. No luck.

By the age of 17 she weighed 350 pounds, was pre-diabetic and suffered sleep apnea and high blood pressure. Desperate, she asked her doctor about weight loss surgery.

Dr. Matias Bruzoni, pediatric surgeon says “She was one of those patients that was super motivated from the get-go and that shows you that once you get to a certain level, no matter how motivated you are, all other ways of losing weight are going to be inefficient.”

Adults usually undergo full gastric bypass surgery, but teens getting weight loss surgery most often will turn to less invasive laparoscopic sleeve surgery called gastrectomy where up to 75 percent of a patient’s stomach is removed.

“These patients actually don’t have much of an appetite after surgery and that helps with this whole recovery.” Dr. Bruzoni said.

Micaela has lost 165 pounds and has kept it off since her surgery four years ago by following a strict diet and eating small meals every four hours. “I was no longer shrinking down, hiding myself. I was able to be this effervescent, boisterous person I’ve always wanted to be.”

And Micaela is not looking back.

To be eligible, teens have to have a body mass index, or BMI, of 35 or higher, have diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Those over 40 BMI may qualify without the additional conditions. But because this surgery requires lifestyle changes too not every obese teen qualifies.

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