Who is a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is not for everyone. Even though it offers great potential, with that comes great risk. Bariatric surgery is a major medical procedure and surgeons must first be sure that patients are good candidates before moving forward with the surgery. The screening process for bariatric surgery is extensive and requires a lot of testing, both physically and mentally to be sure that the patient is indeed well prepared. Candidates are typically between the ages of 18 and 65, although some people younger may be eligible depending on conditions.

Primary Requirements

Here’s the primary criteria for potential weight loss surgery patients:

  • Have you made serious efforts to lose weight through healthy diet and exercise and been unsuccessful? Be prepared to discuss what you’ve tried with your doctor.
  • Is your Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40? Over 40 is considered extremely obese and could qualify you for surgical intervention.
  • Is your Body Mass Index below 40 but above 30 and you have a health problem related to your weight? Certain people can qualify if they have a weight-related medical condition but do not meet the BMI of 40 that is typically required for weight loss surgery.

Some of the typical obesity related conditions include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Sleep apnea
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Obesity hypoventilation
  • Asthma
  • Disabling pain in your joints

Additional Factors Considered

If you’ve met the basic requirements above you will then need to meet with your doctor to review all of the potential risks and complications that can arise. Surgeons need to know patients can handle these risks and have well-managed expectations for how life will change following bariatric surgery in order to proceed with treatment.

Your doctor will evaluate you in the following areas

  • Your nutrition history and your weight level over time
  • Your overall medical condition. You may need to have a weight related medical condition to qualify for surgery but certain medical conditions can be made worse by having the surgery. It will be up to your doctor to make the determination on a case by case basis.
  • Your mental state. Patients will be evaluated to ensure that they are mentally prepared for all of the changes that will take place after the surgery. It will take a sound mind to be able to understand all of the changes and be able to properly stick to the necessary diet and exercise regimen that will come along with this surgery.
  • How long have you been obese? If you have been obese with a BMI near or over 40 for 5 years or more, your doctor may be more inclined to recommend surgery than if you have been obese for a shorter time frame. This is because your doctor wants to ensure you have tried all other methods of weight loss first before undergoing surgery.

Once you meet the established criteria for all patients, your doctor will look to assess you personally by asking you a series of questions. These questions from your doctor are intended to ensure that you are truly ready for all that comes along with weight loss surgery and are fully committed to everything you will need to do in order to make it successful.