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Bariatric Surgery for Adolescents

Weight Loss Surgery for Western Massachusetts Teens

Contact us at 413-794-KIDS (5437)

If your child is struggling with obesity, you’re not alone. Many families throughout western Massachusetts try to help their children lose weight but can’t achieve lasting success through changes to diet and exercise alone. It is difficult for people with obesity to lose weight and keep it off long term solely through lifestyle changes. Your child will likely need specialized care in order to get to a healthy weight.

The experts at Baystate Health are here to provide the care your child needs. Our pediatric bariatric (weight loss) surgery program uses minimally invasive surgery to help reduce your child’s weight and provide strategies to improve their health going forward.

Meet the Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Team

Why Baystate Health for Pediatric Bariatric Surgery?

Our pediatric bariatric surgery program is the only one of its kind in western Massachusetts. Having your child’s weight loss program close to home at Baystate Children’s Specialty Center can be a critical factor in their continued success, since your child will need to attend regular appointments with their surgical and support team even after their procedure. Providing those appointments and support systems in an area that’s close to home, school, and work makes it easier for busy families like yours to stay involved in the program.

Our pediatric weight loss surgeons work closely with our adult bariatric surgery team to ensure your child will have a smooth, successful transition when it’s time for them to move from pediatric care to adult care. A board-certified obesity medicine doctor oversees our surgery program as part of Baystate Health’s comprehensive pediatric weight management program.

Does My Child Qualify for Weight Loss Surgery?

Although bariatric surgery is a great option for many patients, it’s not right for everyone. To qualify, your child must:

  • Be between the ages of 15 and 20
  • Have either a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or higher with at least one significant condition related to their obesity (such as Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, etc.) or a BMI of at least 40 with or without any other conditions. Use this calculator to determine your child’s BMI.
  • Have tried and failed to lose or maintain their weight

As part of their participation in our weight loss surgery program, your child must:

  • Attend weight loss support group meetings on a regular basis
  • Be tested to check for any existing diseases caused by or related to their obesity and to ensure they’re healthy enough for surgery
  • Complete a six-month program that involves regular visits with a weight management doctor, surgeon, dietitian, and psychiatrist
  • Maintain or lose weight before surgery

Your child might not be a good candidate for bariatric surgery if they have certain obesity syndromes, certain gastrointestinal anomalies, or severe developmental delays.

What Can I Expect From My Child’s Weight Loss Surgery?

In the two weeks before your child’s surgery, they’ll be on a mostly liquid diet in order to prepare for the procedure. On the day of surgery at Baystate Children’s Hospital, we’ll give your child general anesthesia so they’ll be asleep during the procedure.

This surgery, known as a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, is a minimally invasive procedure, which means it involves smaller incisions and less pain afterward. The surgeon will permanently remove part of your child’s stomach, as well as most of the cells that create the sensation of hunger. Your child will stay in the hospital for two to three days after surgery so we can make sure there are no complications.

Your child will remain on their mostly liquid diet for two weeks following their surgery, and then they’ll transition back to normal food. However, their smaller stomach will only be able to handle about a half-cup of food (approximately four spoons’ worth of rice or a container of applesauce).

We’ve seen outstanding results from our pediatric bariatric surgeries, including 70% to 80% excess weight loss in the 18 to 24 months following surgery. Our patients often see their other health conditions greatly improve or disappear entirely because of their weight loss.

Your child will have regular follow-up visits with their team, including their surgeon, weight management doctor, dietitian and psychologist, to see how they’re doing and treat any conditions that may have developed as a result of their obesity.

Safety Considerations Because of COVID-19

We understand that you may have concerns about your child’s safety because of the coronavirus pandemic. We work with our patients and their families to protect them while they progress through our program.

Although we do require an in-person visit for your child’s initial consultation, we offer many options to encourage social distancing and reduce the risk of developing COVID-19, including:

  • Phone and video visits for follow-up and dietitian appointments
  • Video visits for behavioral health appointments
  • Virtual support group meetings

Get Answers to Your Questions About Pediatric Bariatric Surgery

We want to make sure your child gets the care they need to address their obesity and help them achieve a healthy weight. For more information about our pediatric weight loss surgery program, call us at 413-794-KIDS (5437).