Alexis Shapiro Gets Surgery to Relieve Weight Gain From Rare Disease - My Bariatric Life
Alexis Shapiro Gets Weight Loss Surgery
Twelve-year-old Alexis has finally gotten the surgery she so desperately
needs to combat the tremendous weight gain she has suffered since being
diagnosed with the rare disease of hypothalamic obesity. If you have been
following her story in the news or read about her in my post, “Girl With
Rare Disease Cannot Stop Excessive Eating” from January of this year,
then you know that Alexis got the disease following surgery for a benign
Hypothalamic obesity is a complication that can occur in survivors of
brain tumors. Those who are diagnosed in childhood are especially
The hypothalamus is located near the base of the brain and is about the
size of a fingernail. The primary function of the hypothalamus is to
release hormones that control the function of the pituitary gland. If
this area is damaged it can cause a person to eat excessively and gain
weight at an alarming rate. This particular form of weight gain cannot
be controlled through diet and exercise.
Alexis Shapiro did not receive national attention due to her battle with
hypothalamic obesity though. She fell into the spotlight because her
insurance carrier would not cover the treatment she needed to address
The Answer Was No
The Shapiro family health care provider, TRICARE and Humana Military,
initially denied Alexis gastric bypass surgery because she was under
eighteen years of age. The decision was eventually reversed and the
company agreed to pay for the surgery although the decision came after
independent sources raised $82,000 to help the family pay for the
Dr. Thomas Inge stated that if Alexis did not get the surgery she needs
she would gain an estimated two pounds per week, her diabetes would
worsen and she could end up weighing four hundred pounds. In addition,
Alexis’ current body mass index is 47.2.
It is predicted that Shapiro can initially lose up to five pounds per
week following gastric bypass surgery.
Alexis underwent surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center this
month, but the planned gastric bypass procedure was abandoned because
her liver was larger than expected.
Doctors instead performed a sleeve gastrectomy that will shrink the
stomach to about a quarter of the original size. Plans were also
canceled to remove part of the vegas nerve due to the size of her liver.
A vagotomy is effective in that it reduces the perception of hunger.
Despite the change in plans, Alexis is currently experiencing an
excellent early recovery. She showed no signs of her diabetes
twenty-four hours after her surgery and doctors believe she will no
longer need insulin. She also feels full after eating instead of the
constant hunger she experienced prior to surgery. She is probably losing
weight as well although doctors cannot make that determination for about
Living life well-fed,
My Bariatric Life
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