future former fatties
Feb 16, 2016 at 08:04 AM

Gastric Bypass Surgery on the Rise for Teenagers

By Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty

Gastric Bypass Surgery on the Rise for Teenagers
Linda Misleh Wagner
Future Former Fatty

I cannot imagine sitting with my teenager discussing whether or not they should have gastric bypass surgery. I know that I would feel that in some way I had failed my child by not being able to teach them self-discipline and self-control when it comes to food. I would feel that I had not instilled a deep appreciation of living a healthy lifestyle, especially if I hadn’t set the right example for my child to follow.

If I had walked the walk and talked the talk, and despite all my efforts and my child still had a weight problem, then I would address the cause behind the need for my child to feel overeating was a solution.

My primary concern regarding teens having gastric bypass surgery is not the complications that could arise, although that is certainly something to consider. However, long before we decide to allow our child to have surgery the questions to be asked are: How did my child get to the point where surgery is even a considered option? What is the root cause? Is there a physiological reason? Is my child suffering from depression? Over what?

Stop right now! I can hear you wondering to yourself how you could’ve done it better. Stop the blame game. It’s a waste of time.

Instead, this is a take-charge moment. It’s in this moment you have been given the opportunity to guide your child toward a lifetime off success or toward a lifetime of weight loss failure. This moment is a moment of garnering inner strength and will-power for both you and your child. You, as the parent, are charged with the responsibility to teach your child the importance of having a healthy body, of acknowledging to your child that you know and understand how hard it is to change habits. And it is in this moment that it is critical to communicate to your child that you love them no matter their size, that you’re proud of them always, and that this problem is not their problem but the problem of the whole family. If one member is in need, the rest are there to be supportive and help, without judgment.

Personally, I agree that gastric bypass surgery is a lifesaving tool for most of us. The surgery helps our bodies in so many important ways. Not only do we lose weight, but if we had diabetes, or high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, many of these diseases are reduced greatly or are completely diminished by this procedure. I know gastric bypass saved my life and rid me of diabetes.

With that said, I don’t think bariatric surgery is the answer for teens. Why? Surgery rearranges organs by sectioning off the small intestine from the stomach that has been made the size of a walnut and bypassing it with the large intestine reattached to this new tiny stomach. This surgery is very effective, but it is only a tool. Teens made to understand and appreciate the importance of this surgery will do well as long as they remember that the surgery will fail if they don’t change their relationship with food and adhere to a lifetime of continuous commitment to eat right and stay active.

And the surgery alone is seldom enough. The emotional component behind overeating needs to be addressed as well. There is a psychological reason behind uncontrolled eating. Help your child discover reasons they chose food to cope, and give them solid reasons why they should strive to look and be healthy.

I have known several adults who have had several revisions because they reverted back to old eating patterns. How many times are we going to go under the knife to fix a problem that will only reoccur if we don’t fix the problem at its source? That source is we. We have to want to lose weight more than we want to eat.

I know it is not as easy to do as it is to say it, but that is what it really comes down to. Fight! Fight for our health.

Statistics show that most gastric bypass patients will gain between 50% to most of their weight back within five years of having surgery. Then what? Are we going to keep going back for more surgery? You might, but I will not. I am not willing to risk my life again and again because I can’t stop eating. I would rather fight harder to change my habits.

It’s frustrating, I know. Either way, it’s frustrating. We might get a reprieve for a few years, and we know if we don’t change our bad food habits in to good healthy food habits, we will be most certain setting ourselves up to fail. Failure is not an option.

Most teens lack the maturity to handle the lifetime of dietary restrictions that go along with bariatric surgery. Even adults, who are supposed to be mature enough to make and adhere to these restrictions and changes, fail. Eventually, most adult gastric bypass patients will regain weight. Maybe, like me, not all, but enough to smack us in the face and own that we gave in to old habits instead of cherishing our new bodies.

Our teens are still kids. They are open to learning and changing. Don’t we serve them best when we stand by them and do the work it takes to help them learn and adopt a healthy lifestyle. Isn’t this preferable to putting our children through unnecessary surgery?

Best wishes to families who decide they are going to push forward in having their teen have bariatric surgery. I want you to succeed. Maybe reading blogs like others and mine who have been through the experience will help teens appreciate the gift of health they’re given by this surgery.

Until we meet again, this is Linda Misleh Wagner, Future Former Fatty.

Posted in Parent and Children Obesity.