Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Health Issues
Text Size

Weight Loss Surgery: An Option for Teens?

Although the overwhelming majority of bariatric surgeries are being performed in adults, a relatively small number of teenagers have undergone the procedure. However, this is major surgery, and the decision to have the operation should not be made hastily.

Candidates for Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is advisable only for extremely overweight adolescents for whom more conservative weight loss measures haven’t worked, particularly if they also have developed serious obesity-related medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and sleep apnea.

Your pediatrician can provide an initial assessment of whether your teenager might be a candidate for surgery.

Referral to a Weight Loss Surgeon

If the pediatrician refers you for a consultation to a weight loss surgeon, make sure that there is a team available to help assess your teens and the family’s readiness for surgery. The team should include at least a pediatrician, surgeon, psychologist, nutritionist, exercise trainer, and social worker. 

You and your teenager will have the opportunity to discuss the potential benefits of the operation, plus get your questions answered about the complications sometimes associated with the operation, such as infections, bleeding, blood clots, vitamin deficiencies, and weight regain. See table below.

Possible Complications of Bariatric Surgery

​Complication Type ​Complications
Early onset​
  • ​Bleeding
  • Bowel perforation
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Dehydration
  • Dysphagia
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dumping syndrome
  • Small bowel obstruction
  • Anastomotic leak
  • Peritonitis
  • Anastomotic stricture
  • Abdominal adhesions
Late onset​
Deficiences ​
Gastric banding ​
  • ​Intraoperative conversion to open gastronomy
  • Hemorrhage
  • Port infection
  • Stomal obstruction
  • Perforation
  • Late mechanical dysfunction
  • Hiatal hernia
  • Erosion
  • Band or port slippage


Last Updated
Pediatric Obesity: Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment Strategies for Primary Care (Copyright © 2014 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Follow Us