How do I know if I'm a candidate for bariatric surgery?

Dr. Steven C. Simper, MD
Vascular Surgeon
If you have clinically severe obesity, you may be a good candidate for weight loss surgery. Weight loss surgery is a treatment option for those who are classified as severely or morbidly obese. Severe obesity is defined as having a BMI of 40 or greater, or weighing more than 100 pounds over your ideal body weight. In addition, having a BMI of 35 or greater with one or more obesity-related diseases is also considered severely obese.
You may be a good candidate for bariatric surgery if:
  • You are 75-100 pounds or more over your healthy (ideal) body weight.
  • You have a BMI of 40 or more, or you have a BMI of 35 or more and have serious health problems such as diabetes or heart disease caused by excess weight
  • You have tried other medically managed weight loss programs without success.
  • You are motivated and committed to the lifelong post-operative care and lifestyle changes that bariatric surgery involves.
Dr. Gregory L. Schroder, MD
Bariatric Medicine (Obesity Medicine) Specialist
The selection criteria for bariatric (weight-loss) surgery are based on National Institute for Health (NIH) and American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) standards for consideration of weight-loss surgery. People wanting bariatric surgery will have tried and failed at non-surgical treatments for severe and morbid obesity, have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 or greater than 35 with significant presenting co-morbidities. People must complete a comprehensive medical, psychological and nutritional evaluation before surgery, and must be well-informed and show an understanding and acceptance of the operation’s benefits and risks. Most importantly, to ensure post-operative success, they must be willing to commit to a long-term lifestyle focusing on physical, psychological and nutritional healthy living. This is supported by long-term follow-up post-surgery.
Your doctor will consider factors such as your BMI and any weight-related health conditions before recommending bariatric surgery. In this video, surgeon Dilendra Weerasinghe, MD, of Gulf Pointe Surgical Specialists, explains.
Dr. Aliu O. Sanni, MD
Bariatric Medicine (Obesity Medicine) Specialist
You are a candidate for bariatric surgery if you have a BMI of 35 and above with at least one associated medical condition such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In fact, gastric bypass surgery has actually been found to be a better cure for diabetes than any other procedure. You also qualify for gastric bypass surgery if you have a BMI of 40.
A candidate for bariatric surgery must have:
  • a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher; or
  • a BMI of 35 or higher and an obesity-related illness, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes
However, if you have a BMI of 30 or higher, you can have the adjustable lap gastric band procedure. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the operation in February 2011 for people in this group.
Prior to bariatric surgery, you have to show that you have tried to lose weight but you haven't been successful. You have to show that you are committed to attending all of the counseling sessions before and after your surgery. You may not be a good candidate for bariatric surgery if you have certain psychiatric or substance abuse disorders.

Continue Learning about Weight Loss Procedures and Surgeries

Weight Loss Procedures and Surgeries

Weight Loss Procedures and Surgeries

Weight loss surgery procedures, including liposuction, gastric bypass, gastric botox and Lap Band surgery are viable options for those needing help with excessive weight loss. But they aren't without their risks. Weight loss surge...

ry procedures should only be performed on individuals for whom regular diet, exercise and medication didn't prove effective. Check out the answers below for more information on how weight loss surgery has advanced over time and which one might be best for you.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.