Ask many overweight or obese adults who’ve had VSG, and they’ll probably tell you that they’ve been fat since they were a kid. And that they wish they’d had vertical sleeve gastrectomy much sooner than they did. Scientific studies are giving us more information every day about the potential long-term harm of being obese as a teenager. A great solution, as lots of Endobariatric parents know, is gastric sleeve in our Mexico hospital.
A recent study, published in Gerontology, looked at the issue and drew some interesting conclusions. It was no surprise that participants had early diagnoses of diseases like type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and cancer. The earlier your body is burdened with excess weight, the sooner disease appears. It makes sense, right? But the researchers also found that there’s something that happens to obese teens that can’t be accounted for through weight alone. The researchers’ theory is that, because a teen body is still maturing, it’s more vulnerable to the ill effects of obesity even years in the future.
In addition to the more common conditions that plague overweight and obese patients (like the ones listed above), a new study discovered that men who were obese as teens are more likely to get a blood clot in their leg or lung as an adult. If you’re not familiar with it, these kinds of clots (thrombosis) is a cardiovascular disease that’s potentially fatal. Yikes.
A more encouraging European study found that damage done by obesity in the teen years can be reversed if the patient reaches a healthy weight by early adulthood—early 20s at the latest. Participants who waved goodbye to extra weight for good by then had the same risks for high cholesterol and blood pressure as participants who’d never struggled with their weight.
But is VSG a good idea for teens?
In a word, “yes.” In a few more words: “yes, if they’re good candidates.” Many bariatric physicians stick to old-school guidelines for patient ages (usually 18 to 65), but I haven’t seen evidence that those numbers are anything other than random. Should your body be ravaged by obesity just because you can’t vote yet? And does your life stop just because you’re eligible for a senior discount? I say “no” to both.
What I look at is the individual candidate. Everyone has to meet certain requirements—such as a minimum BMI, being free of chemical dependencies, and being generally healthy enough to successfully undergo surgery. A good candidate also has the maturity to stick to behaviors that will help them improve their health after VSG. What I’ve found, however, is that plenty of 14-year-olds are mature enough, while some 40-year-olds aren’t!
As obesity rates soar all over the world, I’m seeing more and more teen patients who are looking for a tool to help them transform their lives physically, emotionally, and socially. The results for these patients have been life-changing. Tessa’s daughter, who was already pre-diabetic when she had surgery at age 13, went on to lose half her body weight. “With that loss, she has gained freedom from her weight struggle, self-confidence, healthier eating habits…the ability to shop for clothes with friends, and is much more outgoing,” says Tessa. “For those who have young teens who struggle with weight, I encourage you to listen when they come to seek help.”
We couldn’t agree more, Tessa. Talk to our team today about whether VSG may be right for your teen.
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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.