The Chicago Tribune reported yesterday, [a]s the popularity of stomach surgery has skyrocketed among obese adults, a growing number of doctors are looking at children as possible candidates.
A group of four hospitals...are starting a large-scale study this spring examining how children respond to various types of weight-loss surgery. They include gastric bypass, in which a pouch is stapled off from the rest of the stomach and connected to the small intestine...[and]...a procedure called laparoscopic gastric banding, where an elastic collar installed around the stomach limits how much someone can eat.
The study was approved by the FDA after surgeons at New York University Medical Center published findings in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery this month. In that study, 53-children, aged 13 to 17, underwent bariatric surgery; they lost nearly half their excess weight over 18-months post-op.
The Chicago Tribune highlighted the "success" of one teen, Crystal Kasprowicz, who shed 100-pounds after the surgery, but didn't mention any of the teens who faced additional surgery or other complications after their surgery.
In the abstract of the study we find some numbers to give us an idea of the complications:
- 2 patients had band slips that required laparoscopic repositioning
- 2 patients developed a symptomatic hiatal hernia that required laparoscopic repair
- 1 patient developed a wound infection requiring incision and drainage
- So, of 53 subjects, 10% required additional surgery
- 5 patients experienced hair loss
- 4 patients experienced iron deficiency
- 1 patient developed nephrolithiasis and cholelithiasis (kidney stones and gallstones)
- 1 patient develpped gastroesophageal reflux
- So, of 53 subjects, 21% experienced a complication that didn't require additional surgery
In total, 30% of all the patients experienced a complication. Funny how the media fails to report that, huh?
When Britain recently approved weight loss surgery for children, I included a list of complications we know happen in adults in UK Solution to Childhood Obesity - Surgery & Drugs:
Short Term Complications (in the first 3 to 14 days)
- Bleeding Leak
- Abscess and Infection
- Pulmonary Embolus Death
- Severe Nausea and Vomiting
- Narrowing or ulceration of the connection between the stomach and the small bowel has been reported in one series in about 20% of all patients undergoing gastric bypass
- Bile Reflux Gastritis occurs when bile flows back into the stomach
- Fistulas, (an abnormal passage leading from one hollow organ to another) abscess and infection have been seen in gastric bypass operations
- Dumping Syndrome
- Adhesions, scar tissue caused by healing after surgery
Long Term Complications
- Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies - Decreases in iron, vitamin B12, and/or Folate levels were detected eight months to eight years (median, two years) after the operation
- Peripheral neuropathy (disorders resulting from injury to the peripheral nerves) has been reported after operation
- Osteoporosis and Bone Loss
- Gastric bypass procedures carry the highest risk of multiple micronutrient deficiencies, that may supervene despite close medical follow-up
- Patients with a gastric bypass have a greater frequency of microcytosis and anemia, more frequent subnormal serum levels of vitamin B12, and impressive failure to absorb food vitamin B12
- Gastrointestinal bleeding from a duodenal ulcer four years after having a gastric bypass procedure for obesity
- Symptomatic gallstones requiring cholecystectomy
- Abdominal Wall Hernia
- Pregnancy Complications
But let's set aside the complications for a moment and read what one surgeon tells his patients (adults) before surgery:
The “two by two” lecture is legendary. After prepping more than 900 patients for bariatric procedures since 1998, Gus Slotman, MD, a School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) professor of surgery, can move through his advance warnings for obese patients with lightening speed. “I say this all day long,” he laughs, joking that as a baby boomer himself, his mantra might just be helping him stay as thin as he was back in school.
Without pausing for a single breath, he can rattle off the dietary rules for life after surgery: “Two ounces of protein every two hours, or eight times a day. That’s two by two and take 15 minutes to finish. I tell them they have to commit themselves to eating no more than two ounces at a time. And there will be no room for anything but meat, fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, dairy products, eggs and other proteins. Say goodbye to bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, noodles, pretzels, chips, cheez doodles, crackers, junk cereal and all those starch-carbs.”
Yes, you've just stumbled down the rabbit hole.
In the real world, pre-surgery, we're told repeatedly a carbohydrate restricted diet is dangerous and no one wants to eat that way anyway; in Wonderland, post-op, a carbohydrate restricted diet is mandatory for success and maintaining health.
So after you pony up $25,000 to have your surgery, face the very real (and often expensive) risk of complications, it's not only safe, but necessary to follow a carbohydrate restricted diet.
Funny, but the media doesn't seem too keen on reporting this either. What they are keen on is selling us the idea that weight loss surgery is the answer to the growing problem of childhood obesity.
I don't buy it, and neither should you.