Dr. Brandt says she understands the controversy surrounding teen weight loss surgery—at first, even she was opposed to it. "You know, pediatric surgeons do all the surgeries adults do, but we have to think about growth," she says. "And these children are still growing. And so I was very concerned about the consequences of this surgery."
Over time, Dr. Brandt's outlook began to change. "I actually started meeting children who weigh 500 pounds who were literally dying—couldn't go to school, couldn't sit in the chairs in school. Machines at night to help them breathe," she says.
Still, Dr. Brandt doesn't take performing the surgeries lightly. "We've set some very stringent criteria for when children should be considered for this, and the bar is much higher than adults," she says. "You really not only have to be overweight, you have to have major problems like losing your sight or having diabetes or having sleep apnea."
Dr. Brandt also has her patients attend therapy sessions prior to surgery. "We see kids for months in advance. They come to support group, they're evaluated by psychologists."