Weight loss surgery has become common place among obese adults, and now it's being recognized as a tool to help morbidly obese teens as well. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
As long as Amanda Mace can remember she's struggled with her weight.
"Puberty is when I ended up getting really heavy and to the point that I’m not healthy anymore," Mace recalls.
Her max weight was 275 pounds. She says she tried all kinds of diets, visits to the nutritionist and exercise.
"As a mother it breaks your heart because you’re trying to do the right thing for your child and you're trying to help and nothing seems to help. And Amanda will say is that it never affected her, but it does," says Kim Mace, Amanda's mother.
After watching her father recover from gastric bypass surgery, the 19-year-old decided she needed to take extreme measures as well.
"I’m young, my body’s ready to go," Mace says.
At first her mother and other family members had reservations about safety and were worried she was too young.
"I didn’t have enough education on it," Amanda's mom says.
There has been concern over whether bariatric surgery is safe for adolescents. Recent studies show there are few short term complications for obese teens with dehydration being the most common issue.
Amanda's doctor, Bariatric surgeon Seun Sowemimo, explained to the Mace family that the minimally invasive gastric sleeve procedure would be the best approach for Amanda.
"We are not changing the anatomy, it doesn’t impede the growth process. We make the stomach into this narrow tube by dividing the stomach and taking out the excess," Dr. Sowemimo explains.
Still, more study on the long-term effects to teens needs to be done. But Sowemimo says for youth like Amanda with a body mass index well above 40 the pros outweigh the cons.
"When we recognize that obesity in itself is a disease, and associated with all the other diseases that would develop as a result of it, then you see that this is something that you need to apply the best therapy that you have," Dr. Sowemimo says.
It's been just a couple weeks since her surgery and Amanda has already lost 20 pounds. And shes looking forward to losing more and living life, like everyone else.
"One of my major goals is to fit into average size clothing... Also I want to be able to travel, I want to be comfortable in an airline seat," Mace says.
She says the sky's the limit.