If your child is severely obese, serious medical problems can result — so it's important to lose the extra weight. But, if regular weight loss attempts haven’t worked, pediatric bariatric surgery (surgery for weight loss) might be an option. At Nemours Children’s Health System, we're helping to set the bar nationally in pediatric weight loss surgery. Our surgeons and medical professionals have a high level of expertise and experience in treating teens with severe obesity, and use the very best pediatric bariatric surgery techniques.
What Is Pediatric Bariatric Surgery?
Simply put, pediatric bariatric surgery is a procedure designed to help a person lose excess weight. The type of pediatric bariatric surgery our experts at Nemours advocate and perform is known as “gastric sleeve surgery” or “laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.” So what does that mean in plain English?
The procedure creates a smaller gastric (stomach) area, slimming it down into a narrower sleeve or banana-like structure. “Laparoscopic” means we make several small incisions to insert a tiny camera or scope, which helps guide the procedure and allows us to use small instruments to perform the technique. (This is a form of minimally invasive surgery, which can help your child to experience fewer complications and discomfort postsurgery.)
“Gastrectomy” simply refers to removing part of the stomach. Most often, we remove a large portion of a severely obese young person’s stomach.
The Effects of Pediatric Bariatric Surgery
After gastric sleeve surgery, the newly narrowed stomach pouch holds much less than a normally sized stomach. This helps to significantly reduce the amount of food (and, therefore, calories) that can be consumed. It also affects the stomach's hormone levels — reducing hunger, increasing feelings of fullness, and aiding the control of blood sugar levels.
Gastric sleeve surgery enables rapid and significant weight loss. In fact, most patients lose 50 to 80 percent of their excess body weight 12 months after surgery. At Nemours, our patients are currently averaging 83 percent excess weight loss one year after pediatric bariatric surgery.
Our Pediatric Bariatric Surgery Expertise
Managing a healthy weight may be challenging for your child or teen, for many reasons. For the best results, our physicians and staff will work closely with you, your child and your whole family to establish a healthy lifestyle. When the whole family adopts healthy eating and physical activity habits, pediatric bariatric surgery is more successful — and overall health improves for everyone in the family.
Our team of nationally recognized experts is made up of health care providers specializing in pediatrics, surgery, psychology, nursing, nutrition and exercise. Our Nemours Weight Management Clinic is one of the longest-standing and busiest pediatric weight management clinics in the country.
Convenience to Make It All a Little Easier
To help you and your child focus on the task of losing weight and engaging in healthy habits, we'll arrange coordinated appointments for you. That means you and your child can see all of the health care providers you need as conveniently as possible, from our pediatricians and surgeons to psychologists, dietitians and nurses. We'll do all we can to make your life a little easier — before and after your child’s pediatric bariatric surgery.
For Appointments: (904) 697-3600
- your photo ID
- insurance and/or Medicaid cards
- referral from your referring physician (if required by your insurance)
- co-payment, if applicable
- legal guardianship or custody papers if you are not the patient’s parent
If available, please provide:
- preferred pharmacy contact information
- names and dosages of all medications your child is taking (including over-the-counter medications)
- name and number of your primary care physician
- parent (and child’s) social security numbers
- parent work information (address, telephone numbers)
- immigration information (if your child was not born in the United States)
- list of prior immunizations
- Patient Registration (PDF)
New Patient Forms
- Patient Registration (PDF)
Returning Patient Forms
- Release of Information (PDF)
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- Patient Presents Without Legal Guardian (PDF)
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Note: A parent or legal guardian must be with a child for a first visit.
Resources for Patients & Families
We understand the physical, mental and social impact obesity can have on your child's life. In Northeast Florida, our Nemours/Wolfson Cardiometabolic and Bariatric Surgery Center combines pediatric expertise in:
- sleep medicine
- adolescent bariatric surgery
Our coordinated team approach can offer a full range of therapeutic options developed specifically for your child. Our goal is to develop the least invasive treatment plan possible for your child's recovery and, eventually, independent maintenance of a healthy body and lifestyle.
What to Expect With Pediatric Surgery
If your child needs surgery, you can trust the highly trained pediatric surgical team at Nemours. Our pediatric surgical specialists (surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses), understand what kids need, psychologically, and physically.
Before your child undergoes any type of surgical procedure, you will receive a phone call letting you know what to bring to the hospital, including:
- any medications your child is currently taking
- your ID
- insurance and/or Medicaid cards
- proof of guardianship, if applicable
You’ll complete a medical history form, and be informed about what to expect the day of the surgery, including:
- how your family will be kept updated during the procedure
- when you can expect the doctor to come out and speak with you
- when you can join your child in the recovery room
Prior to surgery, you’ll receive feeding instructions for your child, and we’ll answer any questions you might have.
General feeding/drinking instructions are:
No food, milk, formula, or breast milk may be consumed after midnight the day of the surgery. Your child may only have apple juice, Gatorade, water, or Pedialyte up to four hours prior to scheduled surgery time. These are considered “clear liquids.” We ask that you do not substitute other juices. Special Note: Children 11 months or younger may have breast milk, but only up to six hours prior to surgery.
It is extremely important that these guidelines are followed to the letter. Be sure to follow these instructions so that your child’s surgery won’t need to be postponed or cancelled.
Suggested items to pack for your child:
- empty baby bottle or cup
- special feeding or suction equipment (if needed)
- favorite stuffed animal and/or blanket
- loose-fitting clothes
- eyeglasses (if needed)
Please remove the following items from your child:
- all jewelry – including earrings
- fingernail polish
- hair accessories
- contact lenses
We request that only two adults accompany each child. In order to focus on your child who is having surgery, we ask that other children not come along. Please arrive at the facility at the time instructed so your child’s surgery won’t be delayed or cancelled. We encourage you to allow extra time in your travel plans in case of traffic or unexpected delays.
You’ll be asked to stay in the surgical waiting area while your child is in the operating room. A nurse liaison or a trained volunteer will keep you updated during the procedure. If you need to leave the area for any reason, please inform a staff member.
After surgery, your child’s surgeon will come out to discuss the procedure and answer any questions you may have. We’ll inform you as soon as you can join your child in the recovery area or “wake up” room.
You should plan to stay in the recovery area for at least one hour. Children must be fully awake prior to discharge. The length of stay after surgery is different for each child. If your child is going to be admitted to the hospital after surgery, you’ll be given instructions ahead of time.
After surgery, your child may experience nausea and/or vomiting. It’s also common to have a flushed face. We’ll give your child clear liquids to drink when he or she is ready.
Once your child is ready for discharge, a nurse will review instructions
with you regarding diet, wound care, medication, activity, and when your
child should return to see the doctor. You may also be given prescriptions for your child.
Have your child rest as much as possible after surgery. Temporary nausea or vomiting is quite common after discharge. But if your child experiences any of the symptoms below, call your surgeon or the nursing staff immediately.
- a fever of more than 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- persistent nausea or vomiting
- severe pain that’s not relieved by prescribed medication
- excessive bleeding from an incision
We’ll also call you the day after your child’s surgery to see how your child is doing and address any questions or concerns. We’re committed to making your child’s surgical visit as pleasant and safe as possible – before, during, and after the procedure.
Whatever kind of pediatric surgery your child needs, know that at
Nemours we do whatever it takes to give your child the very best, most compassionate care possible. We treat every child as we would our own – your child, our promise.