Teens Consider Controversial Weight Loss Surgery
Rose Medical Center Launches First Teen Bariatric Program In State
Last Updated: 1375 days ago
For Cassie Mills, losing weight has been a losing battle.She is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 213 pounds."I've tried so much before that I'm worried there could be a chance that I won't be able to lose it," said Mills. "I've tried different weight plans like Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers."From meals plans to counting calories to working out, she said she's tried everything, and she's only 16 years old."In middle school, it was definitely hard," she said. "Getting on the bus, they'd be like, 'oh the bus is shaking.' Thanks."The extra pounds even forced her to give up her passion: dance."I felt self-conscious because I put on a lot of weight," said Mills.She is not alone. Nearly a third of U.S. children and adolescents are classified as obese or overweight. More and more are turning to drastic measures to battle the bulge.At Denver's Rose Medical Center, Mills has signed up for the first teen bariatric program in the state."Whether it's surgery or not, I don't care. What I want is for them to start changing their life," said Dr. Michael Snyder, the head of the new "Teen Obesity Weight Loss Program' at Rose.He said before even discussing surgery, every teen gets a team -- a nutritionist, a psychologist, an exercise therapist and a surgeon."I come to them with the same skepticism that everyone out there does, which is I don't know if it's reasonable. You've got to prove to me that it is," said Snyder.He's performed more than 3,000 adult bariatric surgeries, including one for Ann Mills, Cassie's mother."For me, I had to do it. There was no other way," said Ann Mills.A year and a half ago, she had gastric band surgery, where an adjustable belt goes around the upper part of the stomach so that it can only hold a small amount of food.When asked if a similar surgery could be the right choice for a teenager, she said, "I think it can be. It's got to be their choice."Many studies have looked at the safety and effectiveness of weight-loss surgery for adults. There's less evidence for teens. A recent study did show teens who had gastric band surgery lost dramatically more weight than those on a diet.But some critics argue having surgery to lose weight sends the wrong message to young people, and it will affect those who have the procedure for the rest of their life."I would flip it around and say being morbidly obese will definitely affect the rest of their life, their health and their longevity," said Snyder.Cassie recently had her first doctor's consultation, and her BMI put her in the severely overweight category. She said she knows she has to make changes, and then in a few months, they will talk about options.She said she does not want bariatric surgery, yet."But maybe in the long run, if I have no other solution," she said.For now, she said she's just glad to have a support system."I think that I'll finally start changing my life," she said. So that maybe someday, she'll feel comfortable enough in her own skin to dance again.