Canadian teenagers suffering from severe obesity due to an accompanying medical condition, can now seek surgery to help them shed pounds.

Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children has announced it will become the first health-care centre in Canada to offer weight-loss surgery for 12- to 17-year-olds in such a situation.

The procedure, known as laparoscopic band surgery, is usually performed on obese adults. It involves wrapping an inflatable band around the stomach to restrict how much a person can eat or drink.

"In many of the kids, they've had significant weight loss and it's made a huge difference to their life," said Dr. Jacob Langer, chief of general surgery at SickKids.

The surgery is being offered as part of a new weight-loss program in which a team of specialists -- including a dietician, a psychologist and an exercise therapist -- encourage patients to eat more nutritiously and to become more physically active.

If dieting and exercise don't work, the "minimally invasive" procedure will be an option. But patients must suffer from an accompanying medical condition such as a brain tumor or Type 2 diabetes.

"While coping with obesity can be difficult for children and teens, the situation is further complicated when their obesity is caused by, or in addition to, another serious medical condition," the hospital said in a statement.

Stephanie Atwood received the surgery at SickKids when she was 15 years old. She said it helped her overcome the side effects of surgery she underwent to remove a brain tumor.

Atwood had become perpetually hungry and gained weight, reaching nearly 350 lbs., she said. Dieting and exercise didn't work. Then she underwent the procedure.

"I was able to feel full, and it was like something I never experienced before," Atwood said of the surgery, adding that it helped her lose 100 lbs.

"For me, it was kind of at a point of life or death."

With a report from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao