Can Children Be Candidates For Bariatric Surgery?

Obesity in children and adolescents is an ever-growing problem in Mexico and the United States, the two countries with the most overweight populations in the world. For teens and tweens who suffer from severe obesity, this also presents many health issues. The problem goes beyond their weight because kids who suffer from severe obesity are more prone to develop diseases and conditions like sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These diseases and the risks they pose to their overall development sometimes become a part of their lives even before they start high school. 

As bariatric experts, we understand that children and teens dealing with severe obesity are sometimes unable to reach a healthy weight with dieting and exercise. And just as the millions of adults who have struggled with and overcome obesity, children and teens have also been receiving help from medical specialists for decades. If your child is dealing with severe obesity and despite your best efforts, they cannot reach a healthy weight, appropriate for their age and height, it might be a good time to explore bariatric surgery, deemed safe by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 

With decades of experience in weight-loss surgery, we feel confident we can help you understand the benefits of bariatric surgery for your child. 

Is Weight-Loss Surgery Safe For Children? 

Yes, weight-loss surgery can be safe for children 10 years and older. Let us explain! 

The safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery in adults have been proven time and time again. At VIDA Bariatrics, we have seen thousands of happy patients lose up to 70% of their weight, and for most of them, bariatric surgery also helps them cure sleep apnea and diabetes, among other comorbidities. 

For children and teens, according to the  American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), bariatric surgery is also considered safe, particularly when the procedure is done by an expert bariatric surgeon and if the patient has a strong support system, both at home and with the doctor. 

Additionally, as the AAP and many doctors explain, comorbidities and all the risks that come with growing up with severe obesity are more dangerous than bariatric surgery. Adding to this, parents should also consider that studies have shown that if a child has severe obesity at age 12 or older, they have a 98% chance of being obese as an adult. Obesity brings a host of diseases and puts children (and adults) at a very high risk of developing not only diabetes but also high blood pressure, heart disease, premature arthritis, and more.

In fact, in a study of the effects of bariatric surgery in teens and tweens, patients were followed for 8 years and the only common complication observed was nutrient deficiencies, which can be adequately controlled by adequate supplementation. 

Is My Child a Candidate For Bariatric Surgery? 

When we asked Dr. Gabriela Rodriguez, our bariatric surgeon in Tijuana, how could parents know if their child was a candidate for bariatric surgery, she explained that this is a complex decision, taken case by case. Knowing if your child is a candidate for weight-loss surgery is a decision that will include your kid’s pediatrician and an experienced bariatric surgeon, in addition to the family members. Some of the key points that could indicate if a child or young adolescent is a candidate for bariatric surgery include:

  • A BMI of 35 or higher and at least a comorbidity
  • A BMI of 40 or more, regardless of comorbidities
  • A history of failed attempts to lose weight under your pediatrician or family doctor’s guidance
  • Family members understand that the patient will have to adjust their lifestyle and eating habits regardless of their age to recover from surgery. 
  • Age is not a defining factor, but children 10 and up are among the most common pediatric bariatric patients 

How Can I Help My Child Beat Obesity? Is Bariatric Surgery The Only Option?

It is understandable that as a parent, you might feel guilty or responsible if your child is struggling with obesity and all the host of diseases this brings.  Nevertheless,  researchers have discovered that in the most severe cases, those that warrant bariatric surgery, obesity is a genetic disease. Genetics can make any person, even a child, more prone to gaining a lot of weight fast. If your pediatrician believes that bariatric surgery might help your child, if you have exhausted all other options like working with a nutritionist and exercising daily, then the benefits are worth exploring.   

Children should not be living with obesity. The social problems this can cause to a young person can prevent them from participating in school sports to being self-conscious about how they look. In these cases, bariatric surgery might not be the only option but could be your best option. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), weight loss surgery is one of the safest, most effective, and tried and true methods for teens and tweens living with severe obesity.

childhood obesity

Bariatric Surgeon | Gabriela Rodriguez MD FACS

Schedule A Consultation With A Top Bariatric Surgeon First

Dr. Gabriela Rodriguez has helped many patients, some as young as 10 years old, beat their severe obesity. If your pediatrician has suggested that you explore surgical treatment for your child’s weight problems, we suggest you start by contacting a bariatric surgeon first. Call us at 1(619) 738-2144  to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rodriguez where she can solve all doubts and questions about bariatric surgery for your child. 


Dr. Gabriela Rodriguez specializes in General and Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery. She brings to VIDA Wellness and Beauty a wealth of experience in bariatrics. Dr. Rodriguez is a founding associate of the Mexican College of General Surgeons. A world-class bariatric surgeon with double certification in the US and Mexico.