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Fighting Obesity among Teenagers with Weight Loss Surgery: The Shani Gofman Story

Dr. Aurora D. 

Pryor
Dr. Aurora D. Pryor, Director,
Bariatric and Metabolic
Weight Loss Center

Today, The New York Times features on its front page a big story about weight loss surgery in teenagers, titled "Young, Obese and in Surgery." This article is part of a current series — Obesity: The Big Picture — that examines the campaigns and research efforts to combat obesity, which has become a national epidemic and significant health challenge.

The article in today's Times points out that bariatric youth procedures are on rise. It focuses on a young woman named Shani Gofman with obesity (5-foot-1 and 271 pounds) who had weight loss surgery (adjustable gastric banding) at the age of 19.

Despite early positive results, the patient continues to face challenges with her weight. Nearly one year after her surgery, she had regained not quite half of what she had lost.

Aurora D. Pryor, MD, professor of surgery and director of the Stony Brook Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center, comments:

"Weight loss surgery in adolescents requires a very aggressive psychosocial program pre- and post-op, with support of both the patient and the family before proceeding. Patients (and their families) need to understand the importance of follow-up and lifestyle change.

"When choosing procedures, adjustable gastric banding requires the most effort on the part of the patient and the most regular follow-up of any available procedure. It is also the safest procedure available.

"This story reinforces that the adjustable band is a tool and does not work without significant associated behavioral modification. It is an excellent choice for patients who just need a little extra help for success with diet and exercise programs.

"One alternative that I consider ideal for adolescent patients is the sleeve gastrectomy. It requires no adjustments and has none of the malabsorptive considerations of gastric bypass. It is, however, not reversible."

The interdisciplinary team of the Stony Brook Bariatric and Metabolic Weight Loss Center provides the medical and psychological support needed for successful weight loss, with or without surgery. At Stony Brook, we offer a full spectrum of weight loss procedures, and can help each individual patient pick the right procedure for him or her.

Come to one of Dr. Pryor's community seminars to get a great overview of our services and lots of helpful background on obesity and weight loss in general. You also will have the opportunity to meet members of our team. Click here for details.

Weigh Loss Surgery for Adolescents? See Dr. Pryor's letter to the editor of The New York Times, published on January 15, which begins: "Your article serves to reinforce that the Lap-Band, a surgically inserted silicone band that constricts the stomach, is simply a surgical tool and not a panacea for obese people…."

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