Are You a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?
While bariatric surgery has been proven to be the most effective tool to help people suffering from obesity to lose weight, there is a chance that it may not be right for you. To be a candidate for surgery, you must meet several requirements listed below. You must also be prepared to make the type of sustained lifestyle change that will be required for you to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off long-term.
The medical criteria to qualify for bariatric surgery include:
1) Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40 (use the BMI calculator below to determine your BMI), OR
2) BMI greater than 35, with at least one medical problem exacerbated by weight. Some examples of medical conditions that are understood to be associated with weight include:
- Diabetes (Type 2, or insulin resistant)
- High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- GERD (Reflux Disease)
- High Cholesterol, High Lipids
- Degeneration of the knees or other weight-bearing joints
- Underweight = <18.5
- Normal Weight = 18.5–24.9
- Overweight = 25–29.9
- Obesity = BMI of 30 or Greater
Being Mentally Prepared
Determining whether you are mentally prepared for bariatric surgery is very important. You must ask yourself, “Am I ready to make the commitment to lifestyle changes that are needed to get the most success from a surgical procedure?” This is a question that can only be answered by each individual person. We believe that, in order to choose surgical treatment for your excess weight, you must have an understanding that:
- The excess weight is causing medical harm in your case
- You have done everything that you reasonably can do without surgery to lose weight
- You are ready to change your relationship with food and exercise
- You are committed to engage in lifelong follow-up
Other Medical Considerations
Most surgeons agree it is not proper to perform surgery on patients who have an uncontrolled psychiatric problem, who have a profound lack of social support, who are very immature, or who suffer from mental retardation.
Surgery in teenagers is a controversial topic. It makes sense to intervene to reduce weight at a young age before the weight causes permanent physical or psychological damage. On the other hand, there are concerns about whether a young person has the maturity to properly understand and comply with the lifelong changes required by surgery.
Most surgeons do not perform bariatric surgery on people older than about 60 years, because the risks involved with surgery tend to rise with increasing age. At Acadiana Weight Loss Surgery, if an involved physician feels that consideration of surgery is appropriate in an older person, we are happy to consider this on a case-by-case basis and have performed surgeries in many patients greater than 70 years old with great outcomes.
Many surgeons, including those of Acadiana Weight Loss Surgery, believe that bariatric surgery can be sensible and reasonably safe for some people with a BMI between 30-35. This is a controversial area, in which we consider patients on a case-by-case basis. Unfortunately, there are no insurance companies that support bariatric surgery in this weight range at this time.
Sometimes, a patient is suffering from medical problems that are so severe that they cannot undergo surgery. This situation is called “prohibitive risk” and fortunately it is rather uncommon. No patient should decide or be told that they have prohibitive risk for surgery, unless they are given this information by a surgeon experienced in bariatric surgery.