Adolescent Bariatric Surgery

What Is an Adolescent Bariatric Surgery?

At the Adolescent Healthy Weight Program, we provide gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, for people ages 13 to 17 who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher and at least 1 accompanying risk factor, such as diabetes. This procedure reduces the size of the stomach, which helps people eat less and feel full faster. It can also reduce insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to increased hunger and weight gain.

Research shows that bariatric surgery helps teenagers lower their BMI and reverse or significantly reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. By reducing the risk of these obesity-related disorders earlier in life, surgical treatment can help prevent illness in teens and lead to better health as adults.

Candidates for Surgery

In general, adolescent weight loss surgery is only performed when conventional weight-loss methods, such as diet and exercise, have been unsuccessful. Qualifying candidates include those whose weight has impacted their ability to function or whose weight, if left untreated, may lead to medical complications. In general, this refers to adolescents with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 and adolescents with a BMI of at least 35 who already have significant weight-related illnesses.


Even for teens who meet the BMI standards for bariatric surgery, further evaluation is done to make sure they have the physical and emotional maturity to handle the surgical experience and follow-up care.

Typically, the evaluation process begins at least six months before any surgery and includes the following:

Physical Examination:

Candidates should have a BMI of 40 or above, or 35 and above with associated weight-related illnesses.

Weight Reduction Program:

Candidates should complete a weight-loss program supervised by medical specialists (dieticians, physical therapists, and/or psychologists) and demonstrate that they are unable to show a healthy reduction of weight.

Sexual and Skeletal Maturity:

Candidates should have reached pubertal maturity and achieved at least 95 percent of their adult height.

Psychological Evaluation:

Candidates should demonstrate a clear understanding of the risks and benefits of surgery, show that they are capable of making an informed decision, and have realistic weight-loss expectations.


Eligibility for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery

Risks and Complications

Because bariatric procedures reduce the size of the stomach, patients may face the following complications and risks as they adjust to this change:

Difficulty Eating and Digesting:

Eating too much or too fast can result in heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Foods high in fat or sugar can worsen these symptoms.

Nutritional Deficiency:

With part of the stomach removed, the body may not be able to absorb as many vitamins and nutrients as it once could.

Weight Gain:

As patients get used to their new stomachs, they may not properly space out their meals. This can result in unintentional weight gain.


How Do We Treat Childhood Obesity?

If your child is obese and you’re not sure what your options are, don’t worry. Doctors have been studying the issue of childhood obesity for decades and have found that there are treatments that are effective for children and adolescents in the long run. The first line of defense is diet and lifestyle changes, and these can be effective when they are properly adhered to.

However, the biggest problem with any sort of behavioral modification for obesity is that many patients simply do not adhere to them. Putting your child on a diet can be difficult, and making sure they stay on that diet when you aren’t able to monitor them at all times (such as when they’re at school or out with friends) can be next to impossible.


Succesful Surgery


Frequently Asked Question

There is no single best procedure in weight-loss, but when considering that the life expectancy of an adolescent is much more than an adult and that many adolescents are still growing physically and maturing mentally, the least invasive procedure tends to be most desired. It is essential that the adolescent, the family and the medical team be involved in the decision making.