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Who should consider bariatric surgery?

Someone who is overweight and not having luck with diet and exercise might be a candidate for bariatric surgery. 

For clinically severe obesity, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery. Many people, including some healthcare professionals, wrongly believe that obese people merely need to stop eating so much to lose weight. In reality, extreme obesity is a potentially deadly disease that sometimes requires a treatment as dramatic as surgery. Surgery is an option for carefully selected patients under the care of a healthcare professional. The surgery, called bariatric surgery, reduces the size of your stomach, limiting the amount of food it can hold. Most doctors consider people for the surgery who:

  • have tried other methods of weight loss (changes in eating behavior, increased physical activity and/or drug therapy) and are still severely obese
  • have a BMI of at least 40 (or 35 in addition to other medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart failure)
  • understand the procedure, risks of surgery and effects after surgery
  • are motivated to make a lifelong behavioral commitment that includes well-balanced eating and physical activity needed to achieve-and maintain-desired results
Rebecca Beecroft
Nursing Specialist

There are a lot of criteria for bariatric surgery. They depend on your surgeon and your insurance company.

A good rule of thumb is being 100 pounds over your ideal body weight or a BMI greater than 40. This is generally accepted even if you are otherwise in good health, meaning no other medical conditions.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery with a BMI of 35.

You have to meet with a nutritionist to discuss long term lifestyle changes. You may also have to have a psychiatric appointment just to make sure you can deal with the many emotional changes you will experience when you change how you eat and live.

You will need medical clearance from your physician, a cardiologist, and a pulmonologist- just to make sure your body can handle the risk associated with surgery.

One of the first thing you should do is make a list of all of the diets you tried, when, how much weight you lost, why you stopped the diet, and why you think the diet failed you. This will be essential as you plan for long term lifestyle changes.

Contact your local hospital about bariatric support groups and attend a session. These people have had bariatric surgery and may help you understand if this is truly your best option.

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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.