What patients and families need to know
Sleeve Gastrectomy Procedure
A vertical sleeve gastrectomy offers the best outcome for our adolescent patients. It does not affect how the body digests food or absorbs nutrients, so the risk of nutritional complications is minimal. This is important for children and teenagers whose bodies are still growing and changing.
We encourage you to give us a call to discuss your child’s situation. Don’t wait until your child is too old—a teen who is obese will continue to gain weight as he or she ages, lessening the benefits of bariatric surgery. Our expert pediatric weight-loss experts are dedicated to helping children and teens obtain and maintain a healthy weight. We understand the unique needs of adolescents and work with your child and family to ensure a positive outcome.
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy: Before Surgery
Our weight-loss program is about more than just surgery. We provide intensive pre- and post-operative care. Before your child’s surgery, you can expect:
- Candidacy evaluation. We need to determine if your child is a good candidate for sleeve gastrectomy. Your child needs to complete an evaluation and necessary diagnostic testing.
- Weight-loss clinic. Your child participates in a minimum three-month course in our weight-loss clinic. There, they learn about the behavioral modifications they will need to use after the surgery, such as choosing healthy foods and eating smaller portions. If you do not live locally, we can recommend hospitals in your area where your child can complete this part of the process.
Sleeve Gastrectomy Procedure: What to Expect
On the day of the surgery, here is a general idea of what you can expect. We will:
- Administer general anesthesia by a pediatric anesthesiologist. Your child will be asleep during the procedure and not feel any pain.
- Make five small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon will insert the laparoscope (a thin tube with a camera at the end) and the surgical instruments through the incisions. The camera is attached to a video monitor, which the surgeon looks at to see real-time images of the operating site.
- Remove most of the stomach. This creates a vertical, banana-shaped pouch.
- Remove the instruments and close the incisions with stitches. The procedure takes between 60-90 minutes.
The smaller pouch fills up quickly, limiting the amount of food your child can eat. This leads to weight loss.
Sleeve Gastrectomy: Follow-Up
Our care does not end when the surgery is over. Our bariatric program includes an intensive post-surgical support system. We follow up with our patients frequently, more often than in an adult bariatric surgery program. Generally, the schedule of follow-up visits is:
- Two to three weeks after the surgery
- Every three months during the first year
- Every six months during the second year
- Every year during the third year and beyond
For more information, call 202-476-2151.
Director, Bariatric Surgery Program
Co-Director, Obesity Program
Maria was the first patient to have weight-loss surgery at Children's National. With its multidisciplinary approach, a team developed a personalized plan for the teenager.
When Renesha came to Children's at 19-years-old, she weighed 286 pounds. Now, after her treatment through the Obesity Program, she's a self-proclaimed "health freak," encouraging her family and friends to work out and eat healthy with her.
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.
Learn about bariatric (weight-loss) surgery for children and teens at our teen-centered Bariatric Surgery Program.
The Obesity Program helps families prevent and manage obesity, ensuring the best chance for a healthier future.
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