Adolescent Bariatric Surgery
The terms "overweight" and "obese" refer to serious medical conditions in which excess body fat accumulates to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health. Obesity is measured by body mass index (BMI), a calculation using height and weight. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but is an indicator of body fat for most adolescents.
Being overweight or obese can cause an increase in many health related illnesses and contribute to a decrease in quality of life. Obesity puts adolescents at risk for:
- Elevated cholesterol
- Fatty liver disease
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Pseudotumor cerebri
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
At Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU's (CHoR) Healthy Lifestyles Center (HLC), a team of dietitians, exercise specialists, psychologists, medical and surgical specialists, and nurses provide comprehensive lifestyle management for the treatment and prevention of obesity and weight-related medical conditions. Through specially designed multidisciplinary programs and services, team members work closely with adolescents and their families to promote healthy weight-management, eating, exercise and lifestyle habits with a focus on lifelong change.
Treatment options include:
- Behavior modification and support
- Increased physical activity
- Medical management
- Nutrition therapy
Adolescent Bariatric (Weight Loss) Surgery
Bariatric surgery may be considered as an adjunct treatment option for older adolescents with severe obesity and significant weight-related medical conditions. Bariatric surgery is a weight loss tool and adolescents must make lifelong changes to be successful.
In the surgery, also known as laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, 80% of the stomach is removed. The remaining stomach is the shape of a tube or banana. Initial volume of the stomach is app. 2 oz.
CHoR is the only accredited adolescent bariatric surgery center in the region, and one of several in the mid-atlantic region.
Benefits of Adolescent Bariatric Surgery
Research shows that adolescent bariatric surgery, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, is an effective treatment for severe obesity. Surgery benefits can also include the reversal of weight-related issues including:
- Elevated cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Psychosocial function
- Quality of life
Qualifying for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery
All surgery candidates must meet established criteria; participate in six months of medically supervised lifestyle intervention; and complete a comprehensive psychological evaluation. Candidates must have a BMI ≥40 or ≥35 with severe comorbidities. It is also crucial that candidates for surgery be physically mature and understands the risks and benefits of surgery.
Contraindications for surgery include:
- Active unstable liver disease
- Alcohol use
- Cardiac instability
- Clotting disorders
- Poorly controlled psychopathology
- Pregnancy (current)
- Smoking (current)
What to expect
Download CHoR's Recipe for Success chart to learn more about bariatric surgery.
- Extensive preoperative education is provided by a dietitian -- including a diet plan and manual with step by step directions.
- Surgical patients must also commit to a liquid diet for two weeks before surgery and two weeks after surgery, gradually increasing to a regular diet with healthy lifestyle choices.
- The hospital stay after surgery is typically a few days.
- Initial food volumes will be less because of the stomach's size, but they will gradually increase over time.
- Bariatric surgery patients require lifelong follow up care.
Call the Healthy Lifestyles Center at (804) 828-CHOR (2467) for an evaluation.