The Adolescent Bariatric Program works with teens and young adults whose health is affected by obesity and who want to consider weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery).

It is not a quick fix or an easy way out. There is a lot of hard work involved. But if your teen’s health is compromised and they are willing and able to make the commitment, surgery may be an option that can change their life.

Why choose Seattle Children’s Adolescent Bariatric Program?

Seattle Children’s collaborates with University of Washington (UW) Medicine Weight Loss Management Center to offer bariatric surgery to teens and young adults. Together, we have the only program in Washington approved by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) to provide bariatric surgery to adolescents.

    • The Adolescent Bariatric Program team acts as a liaison with the University of Washington to provide the physical, mental, emotional and social needs of adolescents. We know how to help your teen make the major life changes that come with bariatric surgery – as they make the major change from childhood to adulthood.
    • Medical providers, dietitians, athletic trainers and social workers work together closely to prepare your teen and family for surgery and support you after surgery in ways that are tailored to you.
    • Based on your teen’s medical needs, we will involve Seattle Children’s specialists from other areas, such as Endocrinology and Diabetes, Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Nephrology, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine and Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine.
    • To coordinate care, the teams from Seattle Children’s Adolescent Bariatric Program and UW Medicine Weight Loss Management Center meet monthly to discuss each patient’s treatment.

    • Bariatric surgery for adolescents is new and innovative – which is one reason no other program in the state has earned MBSAQIP approval.
    • Seattle Children’s has partnered with UW Medicine to help ensure that teens and young adults who have bariatric surgery get medical care and support that meets their unique developmental needs.

    We designed our program to help adolescents achieve benefits safely and maintain good health following bariatric surgery.

    • Your teen’s team at Seattle Children’s addresses all aspects of their physical, mental and emotional health, from helping them set up a schedule for taking their medications to explaining how obesity and weight loss affect fertility.
    • Losing weight is challenging. We talk with your teen and family to understand any challenges you might face, learn about the support you already have and find ways we can provide additional support. We work on lifestyle changes that benefit the teen and the whole family.

    • Seattle Children’s Adolescent Medicine providers see teens and families at many locations around the Seattle area for evaluations and follow-up visits.
    • The Adolescent Wellness Intensive Program — one part of preparing for bariatric surgery — takes place in Seattle. If your family cannot attend the weekly sessions because you live outside the area, your team will work with you to come up with an alternative.
    • If your teen decides to have bariatric surgery somewhere other than UW Medicine Weight Loss Management Center, our Adolescent Bariatric Program experts are still available to provide care and support.

Conditions We Treat

Bariatric surgery is for teens and young adults who are obese. Most consider bariatric surgery because they also have other medical conditions related to weight, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Increased brain pressure (benign intracranial hypertension, formerly called pseudotumor cerebri)
  • High cholesterol and high triglycerides

We work with your insurance provider to verify your eligibility for care.

Services We Provide

  • The next step toward surgery is for your teen to take part in the Adolescent Wellness Intensive Program (AWIP) along with a family member. AWIP is a 16-week weight management program that focuses on a positive lifestyle, including nutrition, exercise, mood and family communication.

    Your family should expect at least 30 visits, including:

    • Individual appointments with a medical provider, dietitian, athletic trainer and social worker
    • A weekly 3-hour group meeting

    Your AWIP team evaluates:

    • If your teen can stick to nutritional and medical guidelines after surgery
    • If your teen can understand and agree to surgery
    • If your teen is ready to make adult decisions to support their health and well-being
    • If your teen has family support that will help them stick to guidelines after surgery

  • After working with the Adolescent Wellness team, we will determine if you are able to get approval for bariatric surgery from your insurance plan. Each insurer has its own set of guidelines.

  • If your insurer approves surgery, we refer you to the bariatric surgery team at UW Medicine Weight Loss Management Center. The team includes:

    • A surgeon
    • A registered dietitian
    • A social worker
    • A psychologist
    • A care coordinator
    • A nurse

    They evaluate whether surgery is an option for your teen, work with your family to prepare for the procedure and help you with your insurance. Surgery takes place at UW Medical Center.

  • The UW bariatric surgery team sees your teen for follow-up visits.

    Your Seattle Children’s team also keeps seeing your teen on a regular basis throughout the process, even after we refer you to UW Medicine. We are here before and after surgery to provide the ongoing care and support that help ensure success.

    When your teen is ready to leave home for college or to live on their own, we work with them on maintaining their health as they become more independent. As our patients near age 21, we help them transition to adult care to stay healthy.

Scheduling an Appointment With the Adolescent Bariatric Program

  • If you would like a referral to Adolescent Medicine for an evaluation or to discuss the Adolescent Bariatric Program, talk to your primary care provider. If you already have a referral, please call 206-987-2028 to schedule an appointment.
  • If you already have an appointment, learn more about what to expect and how to prepare.
  • Learn about Adolescent Bariatric Program resources such as useful links and recommended reading for you and your family.

Participate in Research

Help us answer questions about childhood health and illness, and help other children in the future. Learn more.

Paying for Care

Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.