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Weight-Loss Surgery (Bariatric Surgery) Program

Contact number | 202-476-2151
Sabrina Surace

Sabrina's Journey

After feeling like she had exhausted her weight-loss options, Sabrina came to Children's National to achieve her goal of a healthier lifestyle.

Read more

Childhood obesity is a complex condition that dramatically increases the risk for other serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and depression. If your child has tried many different weight-loss methods without success, bariatric (weight-loss) surgery can help your child reach a healthier weight, when combined with lifestyle changes. 

Bariatric Surgery Dedicated to Pediatric and Adolescent Care

While most weight-loss programs are adult-centric, the Children’s National bariatric surgery team specializes in performing weight-loss procedures for children and teenagers. We are one of the only centers in the nation dedicated to pediatric bariatric surgery, and have achieved national accreditation from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program for meeting the highest standards for patient safety and quality of care.

We have helped more than 230 children achieve a healthier lifestyle through our program, with patients losing an average of 70-100 pounds one year after weight-loss surgery.

Adolescent Weight-Loss Surgery: Who is a Candidate?

You may be wondering if your child is a candidate for weight-loss surgery. Candidates must meet these requirements:
  • Have a history of obesity for at least three years
  • Tried other weight-loss programs without success
  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 with an obesity-related condition or a BMI of greater than 40 without an obesity-related condition
  • Understand the lifelong dietary commitment required after the surgery
  • Complete all clinically required laboratory and diagnostic tests
  • Have confirmation from a psychologist or psychiatrist that he/she is mature enough to comply with the requirements
  • Complete follow-up visits for three years after surgery

We know that weight-loss surgery is not a decision you and your child are making lightly. Together with your family, we create a strong support system to help teens adjust to their new bodies and lifestyle changes. 

Frequently Asked Questions - Weight Loss Surgery 

Evan Nadler, M.D., Director of the Bariatric Surgery Program and Co-Director of the Obesity Program, discusses why children and adolescents opt for weight-loss surgery, misconceptions about the procedure, recovery time and the importance of maintaining healthy eating habits.

Our Family-Focused Approach to Weight-Loss Surgery

Our patient- and family-focused approach to bariatric surgery features:

  • Dedicated pediatric surgical team. We are among the nation’s top experts in the field, training other pediatric surgeons around the country in weight-loss surgery for children. We are also extensively involved in research to gain a better understanding of childhood obesity with the goal of personalizing treatment for each patient.
  • Multidisciplinary care. Our program takes a multidisciplinary approach to care, bringing together physicians from different areas of medicine to provide your child with the best possible care experience. Our patients see child psychologists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, dietitians, anesthesiologists, sleep medicine specialists, staff nurses and social workers.
  • Time and attention. Your child may have their own questions about the procedure and their post-surgery bodies. Our team includes child psychologists who can talk to your child and address any questions or concerns he or she may have. After surgery, we continue extensive follow-up care, developing a personalized lifestyle plan for your child to adhere to after the surgery, focusing on nutrition, exercise and social support systems.
  • Family focus. We strongly emphasize family education, and we encourage family members to be active participants in their child’s healthcare team. 

Bariatric Surgery Procedures for Adolescents 

We perform three types of weight-loss procedures:

  • Sleeve gastrectomy. During this procedure, the surgeon removes a large part of the stomach. This affects how much a child can eat, but not how the body absorbs food and nutrients. We use this procedure most often for adolescents. Learn more about sleeve gastrectomy at Children’s National
  • LAP-BAND®. The surgeon wraps an adjustable band around the stomach. It reduces the amount of food a child can eat, but it does not affect nutrient absorption. This procedure is FDA-approved only for people 18 years of age and older. Learn more about the LAP-BAND procedure
  • Gastric bypass. This procedure does two things: it makes the stomach smaller, limiting how much food you can eat, and it causes food to bypass parts of the small intestine, reducing how much food and nutrients the body absorbs. Because it affects absorption of nutrients, we generally do not recommend this procedure for children and teenagers.   

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Bariatric Surgery team at 1-202-476-2151.

Sabrina's Story


Sabrina Teaser

At just 13 years old, Sabrina had already exhausted the endless list of weight-loss diets and programs that had promised her “real” results. And to her ever-deepening frustration and despair, nothing was working.

Sabrina's Story

Weight-Loss Surgery (Bariatric Surgery) Program Team