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Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery?

You have come this far so we know that you are determined to learn more about weight loss surgery and to further investigate just what it takes to put your life on a path that leads you back to health and away from the deathly grip of obesity. Remember, weight loss surgery is a last resort treatment meaning you have tried and failed to change any one or combination of the following factors/treatments: environmental / behavioral (dietary, physical exercise), biological (pharmacological). Below are tools you can use to determine if you are a candidate for weight loss surgery.

Qualifying for Weight Loss Surgery

There are many different factors that affect your ability and readiness to quality for weight loss surgery.

First, there are health related requirements to consider, such as your BMI and the presence of any obesity related health conditions (comorbidities) you may have. You must also be prepared to deal with the significant changes that will happen in your life after surgery. You must be ready to commit to a healthy, active lifestyle, you may experience new emotions, and your relationships with others may change. Additionally, you have to know the facts about the specific surgery you are interested in so you have a full understanding of what to expect as well as how you are going to pay for weight loss surgery (insurance or cash).
Below are the general questions you need to answer to determine your eligibility for weight loss surgery; please understand that these questions are NOT meant to take the place of a consultation with your primary care doctor, ultimately your Surgeon will determine whether you qualify:
  • If your BMI is greater than 40, surgery should be considered.  If it is greater than 35-39.9, and is accompanied by a serious comorbidity (see list below), surgery may be medically necessary.  For patients with a BMI of 30-34.9, weight loss surgery is usually purely cosmetic meaning insurance will not cover it. To find out your BMI, use the BMI calculator below.
  • tried dieting, especially medically supervised dieting, and been unable to achieve a sustained healthy body weight.
  • Have you been diagnosed as having any of the following comorbidities from being overweight? We look for health effects that are known to be caused by, or aggravated by serious obesity.
    • Type 2 Diabetes
    • High Blood Pressure
    • High Cholesterol
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
    • Depression
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Acid Reflux / GERD
    • Stress Urinary Incontinence
    • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Infertility
These problems alone or in combination contribute to a "quality of life" factor. Not being able to go out and play with the kids because your knees have worn out, or not getting enough sleep because the apnea wakes you up during the night. And if nothing is done about your obesity the list of co-morbidities you're experiencing will grow eventually leading you down the path to destruction.


Use this calculator to determine your BMI:

BEFORE USING THIS BMI CALCULATOR: Select your gender (note the image will not change), and then move the arrow slider handles or select your height and weight to calculate your BMI. The results of the BMI calculations are displayed in the top right corner. Note that these are approximate values, and are intended to be used only as a rough guide, for an accurate B.M.I, please visit your Doctor.

Height: ' "
Weight: lbs
Ideal Weight: - lbs

A person with a BMI between 35.0 – 39.9 may be eligible for weight loss surgery if they have co-morbidities (medical illnesses/diseases that are either caused by or contributed to by the excess weight that can result either in significant physical disability or even death.)

Morbidly Obese: "Morbid obesity" means that a person is either 50%-100% over normal weight, more than 100 pounds over normal weight, has a BMI of 40 or higher, or is sufficiently overweight to severely interfere with health or normal function.

Are you ready for weight loss surgery?

Chances are you are looking into weight loss surgery on your own with out having discussed this consideration with your family or friends and that is fine. Obesity surgery is a very personal decision to make but at the same time you won't be going through this alone. With the help of your practitioner, you together with your loved ones, should agree that weight loss surgery is the best choice for you but getting to that point can be difficult.

Deciding to undergo a bariatric surgical procedure will change your life in a dramatic and permanent way; your goals should be in the right order, first, to be healthier, next, to live happier, and lastly, to look great.

For all these reasons and more, you should make the decision to have weight-loss surgery only after careful consideration and consultation with an experienced bariatric surgeon and a knowledgeable family physician. A qualified surgeon should answer your questions clearly and explain the exact details of the procedure, the extent of the recovery period and the reality of the follow-up care that will be required. As part of routine evaluation for weight-loss surgery, they may require you to consult with a dietitian/nutritionist and a psychiatrist/therapist. This is to help establish a clear understanding of the post-operative changes in behavior that are essential for long-term success. Weight-loss surgery will only succeed when the patient makes a lifelong commitment. Some of the challenges facing a person after weight-loss surgery can be unexpected. Lifestyle changes can strain relationships within families and between married couples.

You know what you have to deal with but those close to you may not know the problems related to obesity so it is up to you to educate them. Let them know that this is a treatment of last resort; you repeatedly tried -- and failed -- to lower your BMI using diets, exercise and behavior modification and you still have serious health-risk factors associated with being seriously overweight, and that the primary reason for considering bariatric surgery is one of health and not appearance. Many of your friends may think you are doing this in vain instead of purely health reasons. So, it is important for family, friends and coworkers to understand your condition so they may better understand the path you are on and your plan to change that path permanently. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can make the commitment to taking your life back from obesity.

Ultimately, the decision to have the procedure is up to you. After having heard all the information, you must decide if the benefits outweigh the risks. Remember, this surgery is only a tool. Your ultimate success depends on strict adherence to the recommended dietary, exercise and lifestyle changes.

The following are reasons and considerations (from the Doctor's view) that influence whether or not a patient should have weight loss surgery:
  • BMI is too low (under 29, patients with a BMI of 30-34 can be considered but usually for cosmetic purposes only, meaning you will have to pay for the surgery yourself).
  • Failure to keep a scheduled pre-operative seminar or appointment without advance notification. The lack of commitment might identify the patient who won’t follow through with post-operative visits and instructions.
  • Failure to stop smoking 6 weeks before surgery (a blood test for nicotine can be checked prior to surgery).
  • Failure to comply with sample menus and diet assignments.
  • Risk is too high due to existing co-morbidities, (health problems) adding increased risk of complications during and after the surgery.
  • Perceived lack of understanding of or commitment to the life-long dietary restrictions created by weight loss surgery.

Weight loss surgery does carry risks although these are fairly uncommon. It is carried out by well trained and experienced surgeons who will have performed these procedures many times. However, you need to be aware of these before considering whether or not to undertake this type of surgery. Many people see it as a form of cosmetic surgery: but the main difference here is that it is designed to treat a medical condition - that of obesity, whereas cosmetic surgery is usually undertaken for reasons of physical enhancement.

  • Weight Loss surgery is not the easy way out.

    We are all human and it is very easy to give in to temptation but remember that for the weight to stay off you have to stick to your new healthy lifestyle. The surgery is just a tool, one part of this new lifestyle but it is worth it. Consider this: being obese puts you at greater risk of developing one or more co-morbidities. These are long term, chronic conditions which can also take a few years off your life. And, you may have also found that it has affected your confidence, self-esteem and relationships. You are likely to be constantly tired and unable to move around as much as you would like. Plus, if you have a family then there will probably be a range of activities that you are unable to join in due to your excessive weight. If you stack this up against the risks of surgery and having to follow a new healthy routine; the thought of having a better quality of life tips the balance in favour of weight loss surgery.