Interesting question given that we only have been promoting reversible weight loss surgery for years. Now that we are offering nonreversible Gastric Sleeve surgery again, we have some new considerations in who might be eligible for it. A child has the rest of their lives ahead of them. Early in life they may not be able to conform to a program of diet and exercise. But as they become older and more mature, they may change. An adult has a much greater ability to understand the health consequences of poor diet, overeating and lack of physical activity. So when a child becomes an adult, maturity might cause them to become able to lose weight without an operation. So the consequences of nonreversible Gastric Sleeve surgery come into play much more with a child than an adult.

Dr. Simpson has decided not to do Gastric Sleeve surgery on children under eighteen

Because we’ve learned that a prospective Gastric Sleeve surgery patient must understand diet. We mean they must typically (every meal) consume healthy food that can usually only be produced by home cooking. We have found that most children are overweight because their family eats fast food (junk food). Gastric Sleeve surgery is not only less effective when low quality food is regularly consumed, it can be dangerous because of malnutrition. Before doing any Gastric Sleeve surgery, we determine that the patient understands what healthy food is and that is what they eat every meal with almost no exception. If we were to consider doing Gastric Sleeve surgery on a young person living with their parents, we learn about the family’s diet. If the household diet is full of of high glycemic carbs (potatoes, bleached wheat flour, sugar etc.), we explain to the parents that any weight loss procedure will be limited in effectiveness because of it. Parents must understand that they can’t isolate the prospect child’s diet while the rest of the family consumes what we consider to be dangerous food. Processed foods and fast foods (junk food) are among the most addictive things on the planet.

A Gastric Sleeve surgery patient continuously exposed to these deadly foods in an environment of temptation is certain to fail. Watching siblings eating the foods they can’t, foods they are addicted to, makes them feel deprived and even punished. So when one person in a family gets a Gastric Sleeve surgery, the whole family’s diet must change to a healthy one. Rarely will that happen. We’ve had parents promise to change the family diet only to find out later they couldn’t do it. They reverted back to junk food. It’s easy to go buy a pizza or a cheeseburger. It takes devotion to cook your own healthy food at home. It really is about loving your children and teaching them how to live a long healthy life. Most people just don’t want to sacrifice the time. The doctor requires proof that parents will change the entire family’s diet before giving a child Gastric Sleeve surgery and that proof has proven almost impossible to get. He also must know that the child completely understands what good food is. That’s a lot of learning that most children unfortunately will not even consider. So as you read this article, please realize we are talking in terms of a typical Gastric Sleeve surgeon’s standards not our own – one who will do an operation to a child. Dr. Terry Simpson will no longer do Gastric Sleeve surgery to children. You will understand why even more as you read this article.

Why even consider a nonreversible weight loss surgery for a child?

The problem with Lap-band surgery and children is control over what they eat. Children can be compulsive. They eat big mouthfuls and drink big gulps and that won’t work with the Lap-band. Eating with the Lap-band requires small bites of food being well chewed. Otherwise food will get stuck in the band and that is no fun. A Lap-band patient must learn to eat slowly and deliberately. Can a compulsive child who might hurry their eating just to go out and play be capable of such control?

The Lap-band also requires the patient to be able to stop eating on their own accord as it does not produce a sensation of satiety. With Lap-band surgery there is no hard stop feeling of fullness and it’s the wrong procedure to get for anybody who expects that. With Lap-band surgery you eat a set portion, ideally four ounces of meat and six ounces of low glycemic (non-starchy) vegetables. Then you stop on your own accord. The Lap-band heightens the sensitivity of the nerves it surrounds at the top of the stomach which in turn signals the brain that you’ve eaten much more food than you have. That causes the brain to postpone producing hunger hormones for hours. But there is no immediate feeling of fullness to stop you from eating all that you can eat. In fact if you get a feeling of fullness it is an indication that the lap-band has been adjusted too tight. So the question is, can a child who may be compulsive just stop eating after consuming a set amount of food on his or her own accord? Think about food like pizza which people generally eat as quickly as possible. Can a child resist that type of food and most importantly stop eating it only after having a relatively very small serving? Do children need a procedure that delivers a hard stop feeling of fullness? But, after saying that, it must be realized that with all weight loss surgeries every patient must develop new control – adult or child. Every procedure can be outeaten and defeated by eating the wrong foods.