Posted on: September 14th, 2015 by Our Team

By A.J. Ross

Thursday, February 19, 2015


This is anything but a simple nip and tuck – it’s a cutting-edge bariatric procedure that is now being performed at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick that is transforming young lives like Michaela Suffy’s.

19-year-old Michaela says she has always been overweight her entire life, and has tried everything to lose weight. When nothing worked, and she reached nearly 250 pounds, she knew something needed to change.

“I was like profusely sweating, and I’m like ‘I need to sit down, I feel like I’m doing an intense workout right now, and it’s just walking the mall,'” says Michaela, “I knew something had to be done – it was just getting worse and worse.”

Michaela’s story isn’t uncommon. According to the CDC, obesity now affects 17% of children and adolescents in the United States – triple the rate from one generation ago.

“We are now also starting to see medical problems that we’ve never seen in this age group – we’re starting to see hypertension, or high blood pressure and diabetes,” says Dr. Ragui Sadek.

Dr. Sadek is one of only a select few doctors across the country now performing bariatric surgery in obese teens, and Michaela was one of his first 40 patients.

“We are the only center of excellence for adolescent bariatric surgery in the country,” adds Dr. Sadek, “we do it here in a safe way, in a very effective way following very, very strict criteria.”

Dr. Sadek says the unique sleeve and staple procedure is a last resort, and not a quick fix. Each teen he operates on goes through 3-6 months of pre-op counseling to prepare for not just a change in their bodies, but their lifestyles.

“There’s still some sort of discrimination, there’s still some sort of bullying against these children or young adults, and the ones that lose the weight and they come back in your office and they’re smiling and they’re happy, and they’re thanking you for their life back are the ones that really touch me forever,” adds Dr. Sadek.

After the surgery, Dr. Sadek and his staff work closely with each patient to ensure they keep the weight off.

“I love watching the transformation, I love when they start sitting up in their seat, and they’re talking in support groups and they’re sharing,” he says.

Since her procedure, Michaela has lost 70 pounds, and now wants to help other teens live healthier lives, too.

“This is such a big part of my life now – it’s a whole lifestyle change, and I just want to educate people about it – I love everything about it,” she says.

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