• Article
  • January 4, 2017

3 Things to Know About Bariatric Surgery for Pediatric Patients

As childhood obesity becomes a growing problem in the United States, children and their families are looking for healthy eating and exercise alternatives to combat the disease and reduce the risk of obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease. Bariatric surgery is one such alternative. Since 2004, children's hospitals have performed more than 2,500 bariatric procedures, according to the Pediatric Health Information System, a comparative pediatric database of clinical and resource utilization data from 45 of the nation's largest children's hosptials. 

What is the makeup of a typical bariatric surgery patient?

At Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, patients undergoing a bariatric procedure have an average BMI of 50, have family support, agree to participate in a sleep study and psychological evaluation, and commit to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They also must participate in a medically managed weight-loss program—mandated by insurance companies—for six months.

What is bariatric surgery?

Through five small holes in the belly, doctors staple the stomach shut, reducing the size of it by about 90 percent. This makes patients feel fuller faster, and is viewed as a last resort for obese children who are beyond the point of being able to lose enough weight on their own through exercise and eating well. Many of these patients also use the surgery to mitigate other obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea.

What is the success rate?

An NIH-funded study conducted by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and four other hospitals followed 242 adolescent bariatric surgery patients. Researchers found a mean weight reduction of 27 percent three years after surgery. They also found significant quality of life improvements and reduction of obesity-related conditions.

Learn more about bariatric surgery at Live Well Nebraska.