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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Too Young for WLS?

We hear a lot about the obesity crisis in children. The media calls it an epidemic and the government calls it a grave social problem. I often receive letters from parents asking for advice on when children should be able to have WLS.

I don't have a definitive answer. The argument psychologists make is that children are not emotionally old enough to handle WLS. The medical community argues that you should not alter the organs in a body that is still maturing.

It seems to me that children and teens are too young physically and mentally for the surgery. But you know, looking back, if I could have undergone WLS and the following transformation at age 18 or 19 it would have spared me years of physical pain and emotional torment. Of course we can all play the "what might have been" game. But one cannot help but wonder what different paths our life would have taken. Was I emotionally ready at 18 or 19 to be the fat girl in a skinny world?

CNN reports on a new government study being conducted on teens who undergo WLS. An excerpt from the article reads:

"Surgery has been effective in treating extreme obesity in adults. Researchers want to find out whether adults and adolescents who have the surgery have significantly different health problems and whether there is any benefit to having the operation earlier in life.

"The researchers are responding to the growing problem of extreme obesity among the young.

"We know bariatric surgery is effective for weight-loss. We just need to carefully document how teenagers respond," said Dr. Thomas Inge, associate professor of pediatrics and surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, which is leading the study.
Read the full Article: Researchers study benefits, risks of teen weight-loss surgery

Just about a year ago we discussed this topic in the LivingAfterWLS Neighborhood: Too Young for WLS. With this new study announced I feel it is time to revisit this topic. Are you in favor or against WLS for teens? Has your view changed due to your own experience with WLS? What are your current views? Do you know a teen who has had or wants to have WLS?

It is important to evaluate the effect of obesity vs. surgery when considering surgery as a tool to treat obesity. We have two informative webisodes that address the toll obesity takes on the body and lifestyle of those suffering from this illness:

The Hidden Costs of Obesity and
Obesity and Your Health: How WLS Can Help


Anonymous said...

I have had WLS and i yes i let my two daughters, yes 2 daughters have it. I also feel if i could have had it when i was 19 i would not have had to suffer all those years of being the fat person.
My daughters have done really well. Brandi was 19 and Michelle was 21.
They each lost over 100 pounds.
You can look at our sites.
Deb A is mine and Brandi A and Michelle A is theirs.

Myst_72 said...

My son is being considered for WLS he is 13.
His main weight gain has come from complications due to contracting glandular fever two years ago, leading to liver problems/fatty liver and chronic fatigue.
I am all for the surgery, he's been through too much and has 'lost two years of his life - that he can't get back' (his description).
We haven't been approved yet, we were approved by a private doctor, but our paed wants us to go to a large paediatric hospital for the surgery - if approved.

Fingers crossed.


Myst_72 said...

p.s. this would be for lap band surgery, not gastric bypass. In Australia they are considering removing the band in 8 - 9 years time when given to teenagers after reaching and maintaining their goal weight.