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Frequently Asked Questions about Weight Loss Surgery
At Children's National, we understand that families have many questions about their child's condition and care. Here is a list of frequently asked questions regarding bariatric weight loss surgery.
How safe is bariatric surgery?
The LAP-BAND procedure has been FDA-approved for adults since 2001, but is currently not approved for patients less than 18 years of age. This procedure is the least invasive of the purely restrictive bariatric surgery procedures, and the stomach is not cut or stapled. The procedure is also completely reversible.
Gastric bypass is riskier than the LAP-BAND, but has fewer risks in adolescents than adults.
There are few data points about the sleeve gastrectomy, but it is thought to be less risky than the bypass, but more so than the LAP-BAND.
Where can I go for counseling support in my community?
Children's National has a team of child and adolescent psychologists and medical specialists to help patients find ongoing counseling resources.
How long do I have to stay in the hospital for this procedure?
Hospital stay varies from one night (LAP-BAND) to five nights (gastric bypass) depending on the patient and the procedure. Each patient is different and requires personalized care to best meet his or her individual needs.
What are the patient criteria for bariatric surgery?
View the referral guidelines for information about who may be considered for the surgery.
What is bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery involves reducing caloric intake by modifying the structure of the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract. There are three major procedures for weight loss performed in children and adults:
- Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (LAP-BAND), which consists of wrapping an inflatable band around the stomach to create a small pouch with a narrow outlet to restrict food intake
- Gastric bypass, which involves making a small pouch out of the stomach and re-routing the intestines to maximize weight loss
- Sleeve gastrectomy, a newer procedure that restricts food intake without using a device or re-routing the intestines
All three are performed using minimally invasive techniques through small incisions and are available at Children's National.
Who qualifies for the bariatric surgery program?
Adolescents who wish to undergo bariatric surgery must meet a specific set of guidelines involving age, Body Mass Index (BMI) and obesity history.
Will my insurance cover this operation?
Insurance coverage varies by the individual plan. The best advice is to contact your individual insurance carrier to see what is covered and what criteria are required.
What is life like before and after bariatric surgery?
Life is drastically different after bariatric surgery, and eating changes are necessary for all patients. Consultations with Children's psychologists and nutritionists will help patients make the necessary changes.