In 2006, a 12-year old girl made headlines when she underwent liposuction. According to the reports, the girl was obese and lost 40 pounds through a liposuction and tummy tuck procedure. It is interesting to note that a year after the surgery, the girl had regained 35 pounds. Eventually, the girl and her family sought out gastric lap band surgery. Because most surgeons in the United States will not perform this procedure on patients under 18 years of age, the family traveled to Mexico to have the surgery performed.
Following these media reports, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery stated that liposuction should not be a treatment for childhood obesity.
The number of children and teens undergoing cosmetic surgery has increased during the last decade according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons; however, doctors worry that when children undergo weight loss surgery at a young age, it can have long-term negative effects and does not address the underlying issues. It is important that the issues of lifestyle, diet, and exercise be addressed, rather than using surgery as the answer.
After the reports of this young girl came about, many physicians stated that they felt this type of surgery was unwise for children this young. One physician thought that it set a dangerous precedent and went on to say that most surgeons have ethical standards about treating minors. This physician says that “…as those of us who perform liposuction know, patients with bad eating habits will oftentimes eat themselves into a fatter body again.”
Obviously, with younger children the best route to weight loss is diet and exercise. It is important to work with a physician to ensure that it is a healthy routine.
While liposuction should not be considered the first weight loss option for younger patients, there may be certain situations where fat contouring may be a consideration. Certain localized deformities or medical conditions such as gynecomastia can be treated effectively through liposuction.
If you are considering weight loss methods for your child, it is best to do it safely under a doctor’s supervision. Says Dr. Thomas Wright, medical director of Laser Lipo and Vein Center, “It is important to understand that children under 18 years of age have not fully grown into their bodies. They may also have emotional issues that can cause over-eating. It is important to understand the underlying causes of the weight issues.”