Mumbai, July 22: 11 year old girl, Sanchita Bose, weighed 98 kilos and was often a laughing stock in school. Although a brilliant student, she was an outcast in her own class with no friends. Post a bariatric surgery, things hope to change for her.
Children undergoing a bariatric surgery is not uncommon anymore, especially because of their lifestyle. Sanchita, for instance, turned obese as she was pampered with food rich in calories. She was born to a well-to-do couple after 12 years, which is why she was pampered to the hilt.
Although a healthy baby during birth, she started showing signs of obesity at a tender age of 6 when her parents noticed that she weighed twice the weight of children of her age.
But by then, she was used to travelling by car and not participating in any sporting events or extra-curricular activities. "Her obesity alienated her from friends and school. She struggled to even walk 50 metres. Exercising or running was not an option as her knees would hurt," said her father.
As health complications like Diabetes and hypertension followed, Sanchita's parents decided to consult a doctor. She was recommended a sleeve gastrectomy, which showed good results as she has already lost a few kilos. "The surgery involves removal of a portion of the stomach permanently, that regulates hunger," said her treating doctor and bariatric surgeon Dr RK Sinha.
Bariatric surgeries, being conducted on children and adolescents, is still being debated worldwide. Although International guidelines set for the surgery suggest that the ideal age for the surgery is 12 in case of girls and 15 in case of boys, India does not have any such standards.
Senior bariatric surgeon Dr Ramen Goel, who consults at the Nova Teen facility at Chembur's Nova Specialty Surgery Centre, says that exceptions can always be treated with this method, provided the patient has the required skeletal structure.
"I had done an equal number of cases in the last 12 years put together," he said. Sanchita is a case in point, opines Sinha. "She had developed sleep disorder and arthritis, among other health issues. Her body mass index (BMI) stood at a whopping 44 (20-25 is normal for her age)," he said.
However, there are exceptions too. DR Sanjay Borude, a consulting surgeon at the Breach Candy and Saifee hospitals, had to perform a bariatric surgery on an 11-month-old baby who was suffering from congenital endocrinal disorder.
In fact, about 10,000 bariatric surgeries are reported to be performed in the country every year, of which only 2-4% are believed to be children or adolescents. Studies suggest that at least 30% adolescents in metros are obese, thanks to their unhealthy lifestyle. However, doctors opine that the surgery should not be used as a quickfix procedure as it is a life changing one that comes with a lot of pros and cons.