Performing Bariatric Surgery On Kids

There’s a recent video interview and slideshow video out about a girl name Betsy. A couple years ago, at the age of 12, Betsy had a gastric sleeve procedure done by Dr. Alvarez of Endobariatrics. Dr. Alvarez also happens to be Betsy’s uncle. This first video is the slideshow… showing Betsy as an obese child up until where she is currently, a very fit looking teen. It only takes a few minutes… take a look, I’ll be here when you’re done.

So what’d you think? Me, I have to quote Beth on this one (I found the video above initially on her site).


For those of us who were obese as kids… we know the cruelty that other kids can inflict… both intentionally and not. In middle school I was called “porky portinga” by a few. And I can remember the mental anguish I put myself through over things like how tight the 8th grade school uniform was on me. And I wish I could say it’s something that the kids grow out of… but when it comes to how the obese are treated there’s way too many adults that are as bad, and worse.

So on the one hand, I can understand the desire to put a stop to that sort of thing in any way possible. And generally we can’t change others, so it can be easier to change ourselves. But then again, there’s noting truly easy about bariatric surgery. And the changes that it not only imposes on a person, but the ones it then also requires of the person in order to maintain a long term success… cripes, I know I wasn’t ready for something like that at 22… or 32… let alone 12.

Based on the video above, the later photos shown, I thought Betsy had to be in her late teens at this point and I was heartened to see she’d been able to keep things going so well for what seemed to be a number of years. Then I watched the video below… here, go check it out, again, it’s just a few minutes long.

In this one, we find out Betsy is now 14. She’s two years post-op. There’s no denying she’s doing great… but at the same time, she’s barely out of the honeymoon phase. So I’m very much back to being torn.

Now, Betsy may do very well long term. I’m not trying to say she can’t do this. But she also has an advantage over most folks, let alone most kids – her uncle is the one that did her surgery. She has someone that will (hopefully) be there for her for the long haul when it comes to continue support and education. I’m also more than a little curious about who paid for her procedure as I believe there are few, if any, insurance companies covering bariatric surgery for kids.

And it’s important to point out, she’s still barely a teen, and while I have no kids of my own… I’ve got plenty of friends who do and if my little glimpses are any indication… well, sure, the whole¬†rebellious teen thing may get overplayed at times, but these sorts of things are always based on at least some bit of truth.

So yea. I’m torn.

Much in the same way I am torn on the lowering of BMI requirements for gastric banding surgeries. Is broadening the eligibility, be it through age or BMI, really help those who would now be considered on the fringes? The merits of helping people in these situations turn things around before they become much worse, before the “damage is done” so to speak (both mentally and physically) outweigh the risks of these folks not taking the procedures as serious, jeopardizing the long-term success?

I don’t have the answer… do you?

About Rob

I had RNY Gastric Bypass on April 8, 2009. I went from my heaviest of over 380 down to a low of 188 (for about a day!) before working on rebuilding muscle and such. Now I maintain at about 225. WLS has changed my life in so many ways, including my career as I now tackle nutritional coaching and other obesity education issues and is also a co-host on The Wake Up Call, a health and wellness radio show.