Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford Receives Landmark Accreditation

For Release: February 23, 2017

STANFORD, Calif. — Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford’s Adolescent Bariatric Surgery program is the first and only adolescent bariatric surgery program on the West Coast to receive accreditation by the American College of Surgeons Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program.

Since 2004, Packard Children’s has provided bariatric surgery to adolescents as a treatment option through the Packard Children’s Center for Healthy Weight. The program, which is modeled after Stanford Health Care’s adult program, offers behavioral, educational and medical services to overweight children and adolescents. 

“Not only are we the only center on the West Coast to be accredited so far, we are also one of three programs in the nation to receive accreditation to do this type of operation on adolescents,” said Matias Bruzoni, MD, surgical director of the Adolescent Bariatric Surgery program and assistant professor of surgery at Stanford School of Medicine.

For 21-year-old Micaela Chapa, who underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy 4 years ago when she was a senior in high school, it’s been life-changing.

“I feel like the whole process with Packard Children’s was transformative,” said Micaela.

Although she was active in sports, Micaela struggled with her weight and suffered from mild sleep apnea, pre-hypertension and pre-diabetes.

“I was captain of the water polo team and weighed almost 350 pounds, but I still wasn’t losing weight,” she said.

Micaela’s mother had a successful gastric bypass surgery when Micaela was a child, so she encouraged her daughter to consider the same option. According to Dr. Bruzoni, it is fairly common for adolescent patients to opt for the surgery after seeing their parents successfully undergo the procedure

Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is the most common bariatric surgery for adolescents, and it reduces the size of the stomach by nearly two-thirds. After surgery, the stomach ends up looking like sleeve or tube and will only accept a small volume of food. When the size of the stomach is reduced, the majority of the cells that produce the hormone that causes someone to feel hungry are also removed. In addition, the gastric emptying time may be lower than normal so patients feel full for longer periods.

“After the surgery, patients eat less because their stomach is smaller and they have less of an appetite,” said Bruzoni, who adds that patients need to eat smaller meals more frequently and take vitamins to ensure they are getting adequate nutrition.

Before a patient is considered to be a good candidate for the surgery, they must undergo a 4 to 6 month medical and psychological evaluation. Patients are required to commit to dietary changes and an exercise plan as part of the program, which takes a multidisciplinary approach that includes nutrition counseling and meeting with the program’s psychologist and social worker.

“Most obese patients who qualify for weight loss surgery have failed to lose weight by other methods,” said Bruzoni. “They typically have diseases related to being overweight, such as sleep apnea, diabetes, hypertension and liver disorders. The good news is that scientific data show if you lose weight those diseases will go away.”

The surgery has a profound impact on patients. “Some of our patients tell us they are able to ride a bike or shop for clothes at regular stores, something they weren’t able to do before the surgery,” he added.

Micaela began working with a nutritionist and psychologist when she was admitted to the program, and with their support she lost close to 50 pounds. After the surgery, the weight steadily came off as she continued with her exercise program and ate smaller meals. Now, 4 years after her surgery, she has lost a total of 165 pounds and is holding steady at around 180 pounds.

A student at Solana Community College, she said that while she will always have to follow a strict diet and exercise program, she feels more confident about keeping the weight off.

“After the surgery, I really felt like a changed person, and I had a very powerful tool on my side,” said Micaela. “For the first time, I feel in control of my weight loss.”

Media Contact:

Samantha Dorman
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Kate DeTrempe
(650) 721-8527

About Stanford Medicine Children's Health

Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area’s largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Our network of care includes more than 65 locations across Northern California and more than 85 locations in the U.S. Western region. Along with Stanford Health Care and the Stanford School of Medicine, we are part of Stanford Medicine, an ecosystem harnessing the potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education, and clinical care to improve health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at