If your child or teen struggles with weight gain or weight-related illnesses despite efforts to eat better and exercise, it may be time to see a doctor who specializes in childhood and teen obesity and weight-loss surgery.
At Tower Health, we understand that some children, teens, and young adults need an extra level of care and support to reach and maintain a healthy weight. That is why the Weight Loss Surgery and Wellness Center in Wyomissing, PA offers bariatric surgery to certain teens 15 and older. When combined with a customized diet and exercise plan, weight-loss surgery may help your child lose a significant amount of weight — and improve (or cure) asthma flare-ups, joint pain, sleep apnea, or other medical issues that commonly affect overweight teens.
At St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, we offer bariatric surgery options to certain patients younger than 15 when other treatment plans have been unsuccessful over time. We also offer surgery to teens and young adults, up to 21 years. Our hospital features a specialized pediatric ICU – one of the only in the region. Surgical weight-loss may boost your child or teen’s confidence and self-esteem — and put them on the path to lifelong health and wellness.
Teen Bariatric Surgery
The term bariatric surgery refers to different surgical procedures performed within the digestive tract. One way these procedures help people lose weight is by reducing the size of the stomach.
For teen patients at Tower Health, we perform a type of bariatric surgery called gastric sleeve surgery (also known as sleeve gastrectomy). During this procedure, your child’s surgeon removes roughly 80% of the stomach, leaving only a small, banana-shaped “sleeve” intact. Because the remaining sleeve can only hold a small amount of food — and digestion slows down — your child will feel full sooner and for longer periods of time.
Whenever possible, we use minimally invasive techniques that may cause less pain with fewer complications and a faster recovery. These techniques include laparoscopic surgery and robotic-assisted surgery.
Robotic-assisted Bariatric Surgery
At the Weight Loss Surgery and Wellness Center, we offer the newest type of minimally invasive bariatric surgery: robotic surgery.
Just like other types of minimally invasive surgery, robotic-assisted surgery uses fewer or smaller incisions. However, compared to other techniques, robotic surgery may offer several advantages:
- It uses sophisticated robotic technology. Tiny surgical tools and a camera are attached to robotic arms. Your child’s surgeon controls these arms from a computer.
- It improves precision and control. As the surgeon moves their hand, wrist, and fingers, the robotic arms perform the same delicate movements at the same time. Robotic arms can also bend and rotate more fully than human hands.
- It enhances the surgeon’s vision. During robotic surgery, a high-definition camera provides a close-up, 3D view of the surgical area. During other minimally invasive procedures, surgeons have a two-dimensional view.
Is Your Teen or Young Adult a Candidate for Weight-loss Surgery?
Adolescent weight-loss surgery may be an ideal option for teens who need help losing a large amount of weight and are ready to maintain the lifestyle changes necessary to keep it off.
Your child may meet the criteria for bariatric surgery if they:
- Are 15 or older; and
- Have a body mass index (BMI) that is at or above the 85th percentile for their age; and
- Have not been able to lose weight on their own.
The Pre-operative Process
All patients approved for bariatric surgery at Tower Health must complete our pre-operative readiness program. You and your child will need to attend a live or virtual educational seminar, participate in consultations with medical team members, and undergo certain health and nutrition screenings.
This process helps ensure your child is ready to make and maintain important lifestyle changes.
Your Child’s Care Team
The weight-loss journey can feel overwhelming, especially if your child is not sure how to get started or was frustrated by previous attempts to lose weight. But with the right blend of medical care, coaching, and support, your child can overcome obesity.
Our team of pediatric specialists includes:
- Bariatric surgeons. Doctors who have advanced training in weight-loss surgery.
- Exercise specialists. Certified professionals who can help your child create a safe, effective exercise plan tailored to their age and abilities.
- Nurses and advanced practice providers. Our registered nurses and other clinical providers offer ongoing education and guidance.
- Psychologists. Specialists who provide mental health support and counseling services during and after weight loss.
- Registered dietitians. Professionals who specialize in food and nutrition.