Children's Hospital Colorado
Jessika sitting on a couch with her mom talking about bariatric surgery

Decision to Have Bariatric Surgery

Understanding severe obesity

It can be concerning to have a severely obese teen who has trouble losing weight. Severe obesity affects your teen both emotionally and physically. One family shares how severe obesity has affected their life and how they made the decision to move forward with bariatric surgery.

Facts about severe obesity

Severely obese teens tend to have other health conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and bone and joint problems. Obese teens are also more likely to become obese adults with an increased risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Because of the complexity of these associated conditions and potential risks, we use a multidisciplinary approach to treat obesity – so that we can address all aspects of your teen's health.

Learn more about severe obesity

Infographic that says "Obesity can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, PCOS, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, depression, obstructive sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, fatty liver and skin problems." We use a multidisciplinary approach to treat obesity with a bariatric surgeon, endocrinologist, nurse practitioner, pediatric psychologist, registered dietitian, social worker, exercise physiologist, pulmonologist and gynecologist.

Is bariatric surgery right for your teen?

Research has shown that bariatric surgery may help to reverse certain obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, prediabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can also have a positive impact on weight-related quality of life.

To be a candidate for bariatric surgery, your teen must meet the following criteria:

  • Severe obesity: Body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 kg/m2 or 120% on the growth chart with major obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, severe obstructive sleep apnea or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)


  • Severe obesity: BMI greater than 40 kg/m2 or 140% on the growth chart with other obesity-related health conditions such as milder obstructive sleep apnea, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), high cholesterol, high blood pressure or joint/back pain
  • Willingness to complete the medical work-up and other requirements before and after surgery
  • Ability to understand surgery and care required after surgery
  • Willingness to understand and adhere to nutritional guidelines after surgery
  • Healthy family support system
  • Clearance from the bariatric surgical team

How do I know what my teen's BMI is?

BMI is calculated using your teen's weight and height. You can determine your teen's BMI using the CDC's BMI Percentile Calculator.


What changes does my teen need to make before and after bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is an effective tool that can help your teen lose weight. But, it can only be successful if your teen commits to following the bariatric team's recommendations before surgery, after surgery and beyond. Here is what your teen can expect at Children's Colorado if they go through the bariatric surgery process.

Lifestyle considerations

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1. Before bariatric surgery
  • Initial visit: medical, surgical, psychological and nutrition evaluations
  • Monthly medically managed weight loss visits
  • Insurance approval
  • Preoperative visit
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2. During bariatric surgery
  • Bariatric surgery lasts between two to four hours, depending on the type of bariatric surgery performed
  • One- to three-day hospital stay
A girl running after bariatric surgery
3. After bariatric surgery
  • Two-week recovery at home
  • Transition of diet stages: liquid diet with protein to regular diet
  • Vitamins and supplements for life
  • Regular follow-up visits
  • Regular physical activity
  • Healthy eating for life

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Connect with our world-class bariatric surgeon and multidisciplinary team at Children's Colorado.

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Bariatric surgery research

Results from our research studies provide invaluable information about bariatric surgery surgical outcomes.

Read our research
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Our Bariatric Surgery Center

Read more information about our bariatric surgery program and the types of surgeries we offer.

Discover bariatric surgery resources

"I was already prediabetic, and I didn't want to have diabetes in a year."

Mona, patient who went through bariatric surgery
Mona sitting on a couch with her mom


Partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Children's Hospital Colorado partners with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where many of our physicians and care providers serve as faculty.