Adolescent Weight Loss Surgery
Duke weight loss surgeons offer weight loss surgery options to teens ages 14 and older who have tried to lose weight through our Duke Children’s Healthy Lifestyles clinic and have health problems related to their obesity. Our team is committed to helping your teen achieve his or her weight loss goals.
North Carolina's Only Accredited Adolescent Weight Loss Surgery Program
Duke Children’s Healthy Lifestyles Program is a family-centered lifestyle intervention for children and adolescents who have a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for their age. Our team of dieticians, counselors, physical therapists, and medical providers work closely with your child and your family to ensure everyone learns to adopt healthier choices, including how to incorporate proper nutrition and activity into your daily life.
If your teen has attempted weight loss programs in the past, we offer advanced treatments including specialized diets and medications. Surgical options are available to teens who have been in our Healthy Lifestyles Program for at least six months and meet certain qualifications. If your teen qualifies for surgery, a clinical psychologist and dietician will work with your teen on pre-surgical education in the months leading up to surgery, and provide ongoing support after surgery. We also communicate with your teen's pediatrician or primary care provider.
Please check first with your insurance plan to verify that weight loss surgery is NOT excluded as a benefit for patients under the age of 18.
Choose Duke for your teen's weight loss surgery because we offer:
- North Carolina's only accredited adolescent weight loss surgery program. Our weight loss program at Duke Regional Hospital is the only program accredited for adult AND adolescent weight loss surgery in North Carolina. We are one of the few weight loss surgery programs in the country that is accredited by the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery to perform weight loss surgery on teens ages 14 to 18.
- Experience matters. Our weight loss program has been serving Raleigh and Durham for more than 20 years. It is staffed by board-certified surgeons who are fellowship-trained, meaning they have completed additional years of training in bariatric surgery. They perform approximately 800 bariatric surgeries each year. Studies show that surgical experience is an important indicator of your successful outcome.
- We help you choose the right approach. Your teen’s initial consultation will include an extensive physical exam and nutritional, psychological, and lifestyle evaluation. We also carefully evaluate your teen for all related medical conditions. This often requires special studies and occasionally consultations from medical specialists. This information helps us recommend the safest, most effective surgical approach for your child.
- Safer, minimally invasive surgery. Nearly 99 percent of our weight loss surgeries are completed laparoscopically, meaning they only require small incisions. In some cases, we use robotic tools to minimize incisions for more complex procedures that would normally require larger incisions. Smaller incisions translate to less pain, fewer complications, smaller scars, shorter stays, and faster recovery. Sometimes an abdominal incision is necessary based on your teen’s weight, body shape, and surgery history.
- Post-surgery body contouring. If unwanted, loose skin and tissue hide the results of weight loss surgery, our skilled plastic surgeons can work with your teen to smooth and shape his or her body and ensure he or she feels and looks their best. (This is typically not covered by insurance.)
- Pre- and post-surgery support groups. We offer free monthly and weekly support groups in Durham and Raleigh to people who are preparing for weight loss surgery, as well as those who have already had surgery. Our experts address a variety of topics including nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Your teen will also have the opportunity to talk to people with similar experiences in an educational and supportive setting. Your adolescent’s weight loss surgery does not have to be performed at Duke to participate in these support groups.
ADOLESCENT WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY
Your adolescent will undergo a comprehensive consultation to evaluate his or her medical condition and overall well-being. The consultations are typically scheduled to take place during their first visit to our weight loss surgery clinic and include a variety of evaluations and tests.
A Duke bariatric surgeon will conduct a physical exam and a series of tests. The results are used to identify and evaluate any medical problems related to your teen’s obesity, and to recommend the right procedure.
During the two-hour consultation, our licensed clinical psychologist will review your teen’s knowledge about weight loss surgery, as well as his or her motivation, support, and goals following the procedure. In addition, the psychologist will review eating patterns, psychological functioning and history, and lifestyle behaviors such as diet and exercise. You and your teen will leave with an individualized lifestyle and behavioral treatment plan, educational material, and recommendations to help him or her prepare for weight loss surgery.
Our dietitian will review your child’s dieting history, current meal planning, eating behaviors, and diet progression following surgery. The dietician will work with your adolescent to develop a plan to change his or her current diet in preparation for surgery. Dietary changes may include eliminating high calorie beverages such as sweet tea, regular soda, and juice from the diet; reducing fast food consumption; eating three meals a day with no meal skipping; taking a daily multivitamin; and using a food journal.
ADOLESCENT WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY
Several tests are needed to complete the medical evaluation. Tests can be completed at Duke Raleigh Hospital or Duke Regional Hospital, or your child’s surgeon can order the tests at a location that is convenient to your family.
Radiographic images are used to examine the chest, lungs, and other organs.
Sound waves are used to capture high-speed, 3-D images of the moving heart.
These procedures are performed to identify signs of gastrointestinal concerns such as acid reflux, GERD, hernias, or ulcers. A solution of barium is digested during the barium swallow, which enables X-ray images to view the upper portion of the digestive tract. During an endoscopy, a lighted tube is passed through the mouth and down the throat. A camera on its tip allows the doctor to view the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and parts of the small intestine.
A variety of tests are performed to screen for medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and thyroid disorders, and to assess the body's chemical balance and metabolism, such as iron and folate levels, as well as possible vitamin deficiencies.
A sleep study may be necessary if your child has been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Additional studies may be ordered if previous tests and the medical evaluation uncover a history of heart disease, kidney disorders, or lung problems.