Weight loss surgery in teens

Since I’m basically just waiting to go into labor at this point after a rather hopeful OB appointment yesterday… (Moose is at 0 station meaning she is pretty much where she needs to be when I’m ready to start pushing) I decided to post about something NON-baby related (gasp!).

A friend of mine emailed me this article from the NY Times over the weekend.

The Big Picture:  Young, Obese and in Surgery  (That IS an actual link, I have no idea why it is coming out so tiny)

Lap Band Surgery

I have mixed feelings about this subject myself. I don’t advocate the lap-band for anyone, regardless of age, it’s not very effective, can easily be “undone” and has some very serious complications considering how it is sold as a “simple, safe surgery.” For myself and for young people who were as super morbidly obese as I was (my BMI was over 50 at the age of 18) I think weight loss surgery should seriously be considered as an option. I wish I had done mine 10 years earlier. Your body hits a certain limit and losing weight by just diet and exercise is successful in the long term only about 10% of the time. The body just becomes accustomed to being that heavy and tends to normalize to a higher BMI. For a young person in their late teens and early twenties, it is immensely discouraging and at some point, I just gave up. I was 18 years old, 300lbs, sad, depressed, starting to have knee and back problems and had borderline Type II Diabetes. My surgery gave me my life back in more ways than I ever thought possible and while I’ve had some complications (including some real difficulties with this pregnancy), I’d do it again in a second.

I did a LOT of research before I decided which surgery to have. The DS has a lot of long-term side effects including vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition. These can be avoided with follow up labs and the right diet. The DS also has the best long-term success rate for individuals with a higher BMI. I didn’t want to go through all the drama of a major surgery and then gain all my weight back in 2-3 years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying every morbidly obese 18 year old should have surgery, but I think it should definitely be an option as long as ALL of the risks and benefits are clear. It shouldn’t be ruled out but it is also not the only choice. Weight-loss surgery of any kind is NOT the “easy way out” that some people like to think it is. A person MUST be responsible enough to follow up with diet, exercise and aftercare in order to maintain weight loss and long term health. It’s definitely not the right thing for everyone, neither is any one surgery a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Weight loss surgery is a tool for weight loss, not a cure for obesity.

Anyhow, I’m stepping down from my soapbox now, but I’ll leave you with my before and after pics;

My highest weight, upwards of 380lbs (never really knew how much more than 380 because my Doc’s scale didn’t go any higher than that)

On the left, a pic from my wedding, at my goal weight of 155lbs, on the right, about 12 months after my surgery at about 180lb.

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