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Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy

A vertical sleeve gastrectomy offers the best outcome for most children and adolescents suffering from obesity. It is the mainstay of our program.  The sleeve gastrectomy does not affect how the body digests food or absorbs nutrients, so the risk of nutritional complications is minimal in both the short term and the long term. 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 - a teen who is at an unhealthy weight will most likely continue to gain weight as he or she ages, lessening the benefits of bariatric surgery. Our pediatric weight-loss experts are dedicated to helping children and teens obtain and maintain a healthy weight. We understand the unique needs of each child and work with your child and family to ensure the best possible 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 believe all children suffering from obesity can be a candidate for sleeve gastrectomy, but there may be some medical or other issues to deal with first. Your child will need to complete an evaluation and possibly diagnostic testing prior to any surgery.
  • Weight-loss clinic. Your child will likely need to be seen in our Obesity Program (IDEAL 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.  The number of visits to the IDEAL clinic is often dictated by your insurance company and not by our providers.

Sleeve Gastrectomy Procedure: What to Expect

On the day of the surgery, here is a general idea of what you can expect. We will:

  1. Administer general anesthesia by a pediatric anesthesiologist. Your child will be asleep during the procedure and not feel any pain.
  2. Make five small incisions in the abdomen to insert ports. The surgeon will insert the laparoscope (a thin camera) and the surgical instruments through the ports. The camera is attached to a video monitor, which the surgeon looks at to see real-time images of the operating site.
  3. Remove about 80-90% of the stomach. This creates a vertical, banana-shaped pouch.
  4. Remove the instruments and close the incisions with stitches. The procedure takes between 60 and 90 minutes.

The smaller pouch fills up quickly, limiting the amount of food your child can eat. This leads to weight loss.  There are also metabolic benefits to removing the large portion of the stomach.

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
  • Visits in the IDEAL Clinic alternating with visits to the surgery clinic

Contact Us

For more information, call 202-476-2151.

Children's Team

Children's Team


Evan Nadler

Evan Nadler

Director, Child and Adolescent Weight-loss Surgery Program
Co-Director, Obesity Program
Our Stories

Our Stories

Maria gestures with her hands as she discusses her weight loss journey

Maria's Journey

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.


Renesha's Story

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.

Sabrina Teaser

Sabrina's Story

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.



Weight-Loss Surgery (Bariatric Surgery) Program
Learn about bariatric (weight-loss) surgery for children and teens at our teen-centered Bariatric Surgery Program.
Obesity Program

The Obesity Program helps families prevent and manage obesity, ensuring the best chance for a healthier future. 

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