What If My Child Needs Bariatric Surgery?

If you are a parent of an extremely obese child you may need to consider bariatric surgery to help your child achieve a healthy weight. Children as young as 8 years have become candidates for bariatric surgery to reduce life threatening conditions. There are several serious issues raised when performing bariatric surgery on children. Here is a list of 10 things every parent needs to know and should expect from their doctors if their child is having bariatric surgery:

  1. You should be given a full diagnosis of their child’s condition, in everyday language.
  2. You should be fully informed of the how obesity is harming your child health and its related complications.
  3. You should be offered visual aids or a video to help understand the procedure your child will be undergoing.
  4. You should understand the risks and benefits of the surgery, including exactly what each complication will mean to your child and how it will affect your child. For example, a slipped Adjustable gastric Band will mean that your child will need to undergo another surgery to replace or fix it.
  5. You should fully understand your child will need to continue to be monitored indefinitely and that you will need to provide access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.
  6. You should expect a post operative plan and a list of resources to help your child keep up a healthy weight.
  7. You should also be told the alternatives to bariatric surgery and the risks and benefits of other interventions.
  8. You should also be told the risks and benefits of receiving no bariatric intervention medical treatment.
  9. You need to understand how you will pay for the bariatric surgery, postoperative care, and the costs if complications develop in the short and long-term.
  10. And finally you should be told if your child is a candidate for a clinical research trial.”

This list is modified from Dr. Caniano’s paper entitled, “Ethical Issues in Pediatric Bariatric Surgery” which presents an extensive list of suggested elements for informed consent based on a paper entitled: “Informed consent issued in the conduct of bariatric surgery,”: by Drs. Raper and Sarwer (2008).