Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Program

Our center offers laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy as the procedure of choice for obese teens ages 15-18. It’s our clinical opinion that sleeve gastrectomy is the best of all the available surgical options since it’s a restrictive operation, and doesn’t include any malabsorptive component hence no real vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies.

Blue Distinction Center, SRC Center of Excellence, Aetna Institutes of Quality

Our bariatric center has:

  1. An experienced bariatric surgeon with over 600 sleeve gastrectomies with an outstanding safety record
  2. A well-equipped state of the art children’s hospital including all essential pediatric specialties
  3. State-of-the-art operating rooms including robotic capabilities
  4. A designation as a Center of Excellence as part of our Bariatric Program from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid

Most adolescents who undergo weight loss surgery look forward to returning to school after surgery. They may look and feel different. Surgeons and parents report that the vast majority of adolescents who undergo weight loss surgery are happy, with positive personality changes.

But adolescent bariatric surgery is not a quick fix, it requires long-term medical and psychological follow-up after weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery involves a deep commitment and intensive follow-through. In the right adolescent, however, weight loss surgery can improve overall quality of life and self-esteem. If you are interested in bariatric surgery for your child, please call our team of experts to learn more. As youth obesity crisis spreads, hospital ramps up weight-loss program
As the obesity crisis has deepened among children and adolescents across the United States, doctors have become increasingly concerned that the heavy youngsters they are seeing have very adult problems.
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Childhood and Adolescent Obesity

Childhood and adolescent obesity is an epidemic in the United States. The latest statistics from the U.S Surgeon General are sobering. They show that more than 12.5 million children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are overweight. And these numbers are on the rise. As a result, growing numbers of children and teens are at increased risk for diseases traditionally seen only in adults, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Despite the soaring rates of adolescent obesity, teen weight loss surgery remains uncommon. The number of adolescents undergoing weight loss surgery more than tripled from 2000 till 2013, but these surgeries are still relatively rare in adolescents. In fact, teens represent less than 1 percent of weight loss surgery patients, according to a report in the March 2007 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Children who are obese are at risk for developing lifelong physical and emotional problems. These include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, trouble breathing, difficulty sleeping, and degenerative joint disorders. Teenagers who have weight problems tend to have lower self-esteem and can develop depression, anxiety and other psychological issues. Studies also show that the majority of children and adolescents who are obese remain obese as adults.

Bariatric Surgery for Teens

If weight loss surgery is deemed an option for an adolescent, he or she should be referred to centers with multidisciplinary weight management teams. These teams should include specialists in adolescent obesity evaluation and management, such as psychologists, nutritionists, physical activity instructors and weight loss surgeons. Additional expertise in adolescent medicine, endocrinology, pulmonology, gastroenterology, cardiology and orthopedics may be helpful, too.

Exactly when an adolescent should undergo weight loss surgery is controversial. It depends on the severity of obesity-related health problems faced by the individual patients. This individualized decision should be made on a case-by-case basis with the medical team.

According to guidelines set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2004, adolescents under consideration for weight loss surgery should:

  • Have failed six or more months of organized attempts at weight management. This should be determined with the assistance of a doctor.
  • Have attained or nearly attained physiologic or skeletal maturity. This generally occurs at age 13 or older for girls and at age 15 or older for boys.
  • Be severely obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 40, with serious obesity-related problems; or have a BMI of greater than 50 with less severe obesity-related problems. (Other organizations, including the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, have less stringent weight criteria for teens, due to the severity of medical problems that obese adolescents now face.)
  • Be committed to comprehensive medical and psychological evaluations that should occur before and after surgery.
  • Agree to avoid pregnancy for at least one year after surgery. Pregnancies are safe after weight loss surgery, but reliable contraception should be used for at least the first year after the operation due to increased risk to the developing fetus posed by the rapid weight loss. After the period of rapid weight loss is over, pregnancies should be carefully planned and monitored.
  • Be capable of and willing to adhere to a strict bariatric surgery nutrition program following your operation. For example, after gastric bypass surgery, patients must consume a very low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet with more than 0.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Daily multivitamins, as well as supplements of key nutrients such as calcium, vitamin B12, folate, thiamine and iron (for menstruating females), may also be needed.
  • Provide informed consent to surgical treatment.
  • Demonstrate the ability to make sound decisions. Age is not necessarily the limiting factor here.
  • Have a supportive family environment.

Weight loss surgery is not an option in certain adolescents, including those with:

  • A medically correctable cause of obesity.
  • A substance abuse problem within the preceding year.
  • An inability or unwillingness of either the adolescent or the parents to fully comprehend the surgical procedure and its consequences.
  • Current pregnancy or plans to become pregnant within two years after surgery. Also, adolescents who are currently lactating following a recent pregnancy must wait.

Hotel Accomodations and Recommendations

BMSCH has developed close relationships with a series of extended stay hotels that we encourage our outpatient transplant population to use while receiving care with us. We have suggested three below:

Staybridge Suites
2195 US Highway 1 South
North Brunswick, NJ 08902

Extended Stay
30 World’s Fair Drive
Somerset, NJ 08873

Holiday Inn
4701 Stelton Road
South Plainfield, NJ 07080

(During regular business hours, Concierge Services is happy to contact any of the hotels on your behalf for reservations. If the Concierge is not available, patients must make their own arrangements directly with the hotels. For a full list of area hotels and additional room and board options, please visit Concierge Services).