A remarkable record of success in adolescent weight loss surgery: OCC

When many doctors shied away from treating teens who suffer from excess weight and related health conditions, OCC stepped in to fill the gap, and we are now a world leader in weight loss surgeries for adolescents and teens. Our international team of surgeons and physicians offer a wide array of surgical weight loss solutions and support services, including gastric lap-band, plication, and sleeve procedures.

Helping adolescents with weight loss

Obesity, an issue historically linked only to adults, has been increasing at alarming rates among teens and adolescents. Currently, nearly a quarter of American teenagers are overweight or obese. As little as ten years ago, weight-related diseases, previously almost unheard of in teens, are becoming increasingly commonplace. The rate of diabetes in adolescents has also increased by 33% in the last decade alone.

OCC: Changing the Lives of Teenagers with Dr. Ariel Ortiz

For teenagers: Expect 60% to 70% loss of excess weight.

In our experience, and after scores of minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries performed in our Mexico-based hospital on teens, patients can expect a 60% to 70% loss of excess weight. This can be maintained in the long-term by choosing the right procedure, proper education, and follow-up support. Teen weight-loss surgery is a life-changing experience for young adults who are developing their self-image and beginning the socialization process. There is no reason a teen should struggle with their appearance or rejection issues as a result of obesity.

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Obesity risk factors for children

There are many reasons why obesity is increasing in younger people. Many researchers see genetics as the primary cause, as specific genes and traits make kids more likely to overeat and gain excess weight. Portion sizes increasing and ingredients worsening make matters worse. The standard size of a bottle of soda has grown, and the meal you get from any restaurant is more than an adult needs to eat in one sitting, let alone a child.

Food volume and excess weight sugar, corn syrup, salt, and calories

Without effort, kids are getting more food and sugary drinks than they need or should be consuming.

Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and salt are in more products and in larger quantities than they once were. These ingredients are not only high in calories, but they also make kids feel hungrier, causing them to eat more.

Research-backed surgical protocols for adolescents

Weight loss services among teens have quadrupled in the last few years, according to a recent report published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Researcher Thomas Inge further suggests that bariatric surgeries performed early in adolescence “could more effectively reverse complications of obesity” that might appear later as an adult.

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Teenagers and obesity – an undertreated epidemic

The renowned surgeon-in-chief at New York-Presbyterian Children’s Hospital, Dr. Charles Stolar, recently added: 

Adolescent obesity continues to be under-treated. We know that 14 to 18-year-olds who have obesity are at risk for significant and even fatal conditions as they grow older. In cases where medical therapy doesn’t work, surgery is an effective treatment option.

Weight loss surgery and restoring health to young patients

Unfortunately, few other treatments are available to help teens who are unable to lose weight and are already suffering from obesity-related health problems. Weight loss surgeries provide hope for young lives struggling with obesity during one of the most challenging times in their lives. To learn more about weight loss surgery for teens, visit niddk.nih.gov.

Can weight loss surgery for teens resolve obesity?

As with any disease, treating it right away always provides better outcomes than waiting. When obesity begins in adolescence, the health risks it poses also start, taking a toll on a child’s health that can affect them into adulthood. Bariatric surgery not only helps with weight loss, but it can cure metabolic disease, diabetes, and help balance hormones. Caring for a child’s health with a bariatric procedure means setting them up for a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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What health conditions can be improved?

Not only can weight loss services reduce their risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other health issues, but it can also significantly improve their self-esteem and allow them to lead everyday lives. They won’t have to feel concerned about daily situations like tying shoelaces, fitting in clothes, roller coaster rides, or airplane seats. The kids and teens who are part of the #OCCFamily have newfound hope and excitement for their futures thanks to their bariatric procedures.

Criteria for teen bariatric surgery

There are no hard and fast criteria for eligibility for bariatric surgery, as everyone’s health concerns and lifestyle are different, but a few basic qualifications for bariatric surgery include:

  • BMI above 39 or being more than 100 pounds overweight
  • BMI above 34 and one or more obesity-related health issues such as type II diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, lipid abnormalities, gastrointestinal disorders, PCOS, or heart disease
  • BMI of 30 or more with high body fat percentage or comorbidities may qualify as well
  • BMI below 30 if body fat is high or metabolic syndrome is present

Dr. Ortiz and Dr. Martinez are happy to meet with any adolescent interested in bariatric surgery to determine if it’s right for them.

Obesity Control Center has published the most extensive series of adolescents in literature. Call or email us here to start the weight loss journey for your teen. Our US-based coordinators can lead your family through the process and help your child get on the right, healthy track.

Patient Success Stories

Cameron's patient journey before
Cameron's patient journey after

Cameron

-185 lbs

I can never express enough how grateful I am for what OCC has done for me.

I was considered overweight and obese my entire life. At 35, after years of failed diets, therapy, and research, I realized that the only way for me to permanently loose weight was to have bariatric surgery. My doctors in the US wrote letters to my insurance, emphasizing the medical necessity of this surgery. But after a year of back and forth, my insurance turned me down. I thought all hope was lost until I heard about OCC from a friend. I’d never even heard of traveling to Mexico for surgery, but, after researching and talking to the OCC, I was all in. And I’m so glad I made this choice. The amount of guidance and care I received from OCC from the moment I called for information has been better than anything I’ve experienced in the US. The procedure was smooth—I felt safe and in good hands the entire time.

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Lorena's patient journey before
Tricia's patient journey after

Tricia

-100 lbs

It’s highly reputable reputation and accreditations.

I was sick of being sick. I suffered from type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease. I have two small children and was sick of being tired all the time and sitting on the sidelines. I decided I didn’t want to live this life anymore. That’s when I reached out to OCC and it was the best decision I ever made. I am now actually living and making each day count.

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Celeste's patient journey before
Celeste's patient journey after

Celeste

-203 lbs

I needed a drastic change.

I had tried losing weight and failed on my own so many times before that I just knew I could no longer do it on my own. My health insurance benefits excluded weight loss surgery and I felt so defeated! I didn’t want the insurance companies to decide what I knew I needed. It wasn’t until I started searching for cash-pay costs that I ran across the OCC website (and several others). I looked at their testimonials and tried to find some of those people – I reached out to them on social media to get their thoughts. I started doing research on Dr. Ortiz. I researched the accreditations and certifications that the OCC held and was liking what I was learning. I looked into other facilities and Dr.’s, but none of them seemed to have as high of standards as OCC. After doing research and talking with others about their experiences both at OCC and at other facilities, I decided that it was time to get more information directly from OCC.

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Charlie's patient journey before
Charlie's patient journey after

Charlie

-155 lbs

OCC, you gave me not only my life back, you gave me my smile back…

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. In the long run it became not only emotionally, but also medically necessary to make a drastic change in my life. I was recommended by a family friend who is also a Nurse Practitioner and she recommended me to OCC, specifically Dr. Ortiz. Of course I was apprehensive of the thought of having surgery in Mexico but she reassured me that she took care of several of OCC’s patients right here in my hometown and that if anyone knew exactly what they were doing it was OCC. I researched OCC as well as others, both domestic and foreign, and came to the conclusion that OCC was without a doubt one of the best, if not the best. From the first call to the coordinator to the moment I left Tijuana headed back home, I was treated with support, kindness, compassion, and empathy.

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Jamie's patient journey before
Jamie's patient journey after

Jamie

-73 lbs

I did quite a bit of reading and felt OCC was the best choice and it was!

I have struggled with my weight for all of my adult years, my highest weight was 245 at one time. I maintained my weight loss around 165 lbs until about 2 years ago when my band started not holding any fluid and realized it had a leak. I started regaining weight and put on about 50 lbs. My experience with OCC and Dr. Ortiz was wonderful! I decided to revise to the gastric sleeve and everything was great, we stayed at a very nice hotel , and the staff there was just as good. I had excellent medical care from the start. I would absolutely recommend OCC to anyone who is struggling with their weight. I am now down about 80 lbs and have never felt better. I work out with a personal trainer and run 5ks!

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Elyse's patient journey before
Elyse's patient journey after

Elyse

-65 lbs

Safety, professionalism, knowledge, accreditation.

I was tired of being fat, and for most, 215 isn’t that bad. But for me I felt disgusting. I’m used to being the pretty sexy one. Not the chubby funny girl. I didn’t know that out of country surgery was even a possibility. I had a friend have it done in Mexico and I was like I want that. I booked with another company and after research I found that they had a death and complications. They also used drain tubes which did not sound like fun! Then I found OCC and saw all the great reviews, no deaths and no drain tubes. I was so nervous yet excited. My experience was nothing but positive. I even came home early I was doing so well. I have tried every diet, I exercised regularly and I just kept gaining. This tool has helped me so much. I still continue to eat healthy and exercise regularly but now I actually see results or my hard work. This isn’t the easy way out you still have to put the work in.

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Why choose OCC for teen weight loss surgery?

At OCC, for a quarter-century, we have specialized in the weight loss surgery field. We were some of the first to perform bariatric surgical procedures. Our team includes three Master Bariatric Surgeons. Your child will be under the care of a world-renowned and highly trained surgeon. We are the only international team of bariatric surgeons, offering globalized bariatric healthcare and the best of the best to our patients. Beyond our exceptional success rate and long-term results, we have achieved some remarkable certifications and achievements:

  • We have obtained the Golden Seal awarded by the Joint Commission International, which signifies that we met the highest standards in patient safety and quality available globally.
  • We are fully accredited as an SRC Center of Excellence in Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery. 
  • Our surgical team is made up of leaders in the field who have developed several registered techniques, patented devices, and many “firsts” in the field like teenage obesity treatments, the IGS Improved Gastric Sleeve®, the Stomach Sparing Gastric Sleeve, the Double-Buttress Sewing Technique and more.
  • Our techniques lead to a faster recovery and better outcomes. Shorter times under anesthesia and a less invasive abdominal wall preservation techniques improves the safety of the procedure for your child.
  • We deliver a comprehensive pre-surgery education and preparation, along with a five-year follow-up program, a true industry first!

Adolescent weight loss surgery FAQs

Who is an ideal candidate for adolescent gastric surgery?

Can my child have a normal life after surgery?

How safe is gastric surgery for adolescents and teens?

Is it safe for my child to go to Mexico for gastric surgery?

What about gastric surgery complications for teens and adolescents?

What anesthesia will be administered?

Can a procedure fail as the child gets older?

Will my teen regain the weight?

Who is an ideal candidate for adolescent gastric surgery?

This procedure is ideal for teens who are mentally, physically, and nutritionally prepared for this life-changing procedure. If you’re overweight and above a 30 BMI or 30% body fat, you are a candidate.

Can my child have a normal life after surgery?

Most teens require several months to adapt to the procedure. Our nutritionist prescribes a nutritional regimen that is easy to follow, which allows patients to gradually move up to the next stage. Patients start with a liquid diet for a few days, then move on to liquids including the Bariatric Protein Meals, slowly moving into mushy food and, finally, into a normal diet.

Daily exercise should also progress at the same rate. The surprising fact is that most patients recover much quicker than they think. Energy levels are usually higher than expected when the nutrition plan includes the Bariatric Multivitamin and Bariatric Protein Shakes recommended by our team of experts.

The only thing you can’t do after surgery is overeating. This will cause severe discomfort, nausea, even vomiting. Ideally, most patients will return to three normal meals a day and three snacks between meals.

How safe is gastric surgery for adolescents and teens?

OCC’s complication rate is one of the lowest in the published bariatric literature. Add that to the benefits of the New Improved Gastric Sleeve, and suddenly the results are more promising than ever.

Is it safe for my child to go to Mexico for gastric surgery?

We are at the heart of the commercial district, less than half a mile away from the international border to the U.S.A. Tijuana is now the second busiest medical destination for the traveling patient. At OCC, we are glad to be an essential part of this great reputation. You’re always in the safest hands with Obesity Control Center.

What about gastric surgery complications for teens and adolescents?

At OCC, we have your back. With over 26,000 procedures, we have streamlined not just the technique but the whole process of weight loss surgery. Preparation is key to a successful outcome. We will be serving your child with personalized care throughout every phase of the journey. Our complication rate is one of the lowest found in all literature on the subject. Our leak rate is 0%, and with the implementation of the new techniques designed at OCC, our patients are experiencing substantial and permanent weight loss without suffering heartburn – the most common side effect.

What anesthesia will be administered?

Anesthesia-related symptoms include sleepiness, dizziness, and nausea. Others directly associated with the gastric sleeve itself are cramping, abdominal tenderness, and vomiting. Fortunately, these effects are kept to a minimum and medically treated early so most patients can be up on their feet in a couple of hours and discharged the morning after. At OCC, we have adjusted the technique to let the body heal properly and avoid uncomfortable and sometimes frequent symptoms months after the surgery is performed.

Can a procedure fail as the child gets older?

OCC surgeons use innovative techniques that prevent leaks, pouch enlargement, and failure. This includes our patented Double Buttress Technique. This is when a thin vertical sleeve of the stomach (approximately eight inches long) is created using a stapling device, and the rest of the stomach is removed. Food passes through the digestive tract as usual and is fully absorbed into the body.

Will my teen regain the weight?

It is common to regain weight after weight loss surgery. The trick is to perform a procedure that limits the amount of weight that can be regained. This is done by design. At OCC, our procedures are performed to be safe and effective, preferably permanent weight loss. Weight loss has to do with a structured bariatric program, it’s not just another surgery!

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Schedule your adolescent’s bariatric surgery procedure today

Call us at to start the weight loss journey for your adolescent. Call one of our US-based coordinators and learn how your child can get the life they’ve always wanted with the help of the Obesity Control Center in Tijuana, Mexico.

References

G F Paulus, L E G de Vaan, F J Verdam, et al. Bariatric Surgery in Morbidly Obese Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Obes Surg (2015) 25: 860. 

Click here to see how OCC compares to other facilities in terms of surgical rates, infection rates, mortality rates, and more.

OCC’s epidemiologist is closely monitoring the COVID-19 status and is actively issuing updates as they are available. The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are the most trusted sources online.  While the CDC has announced new mask protocols for vaccinated individuals, there will be no changes for our office protocols for patients, guests, and staff members as the announcement does not apply to hospitals or medical facilities. Masks are still a requirement for all patients, guests and staff at our facility.

As we reinitiate weight loss surgery, we are constantly adapting and installing new and updated safety measures.

Weight loss surgery is medically necessary.

Bariatric Surgery and the clash of two pandemics.   

Major metabolic and bariatric surgery Societies and colleges globally are now calling for the safe resumption of bariatric and metabolic surgery before the COVID-19 pandemic is declared over. 

The sooner bariatric surgery can be safely performed, the quicker obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases can be reduced or resolved as they are not only chronic they are also progressive.  Obesity is also linked to more than 40 diseases including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and at least 13 different types of cancer.

A recent statement from the ASMBS says “Before COVID-19 began, it was clear that patients with obesity were ‘safer through surgery.’ In the era of COVID-19, ‘safer through surgery’ for patients with obesity may prove to be even more important than before.” Obesity and Metabolic syndrome have been identified as an independent risk factor for adverse outcomes including death among COVID-19 patients.

See here for full COVID-19 update. 

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