Energy, mobility, mood, and confidence are just a few ways your weight can affect your physical, mental and emotional health. For many people, diet and exercise are often not enough to lose excess weight, which is especially concerning if you are afflicted with secondary weight-related conditions. Bariatric surgery is no decision to take lightly, but if shedding the extra poundage has become an unmanageable struggle, it may be time to weigh your options.
Undergoing weight loss surgery is a major, life-changing decision. While surgery can help reduce your risk of weight-related health problems, the potential complications are nothing to bat an eye at. That is why you must meet specific criteria to make sure surgery is the most prudent option.
According the American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery, the generally accepted criteria for weight-loss surgery candidates include:
- Your body mass index (BMI) is 40 or higher or you are more than 100 pounds overweight.
- Your BMI is 35 or higher and you suffer from one or more obesity-related health conditions, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea and other respiratory disorders, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, lipid abnormalities, gastrointestinal disorders, or heart disease.
- Your efforts to lose weight with diet and exercise have been unsuccessful.
- Must be 18 years or older
- In some cases, you may qualify for certain types of weight-loss surgery if your BMI is 30 to 34 and you have serious weight-related health problems.
Meeting one of these general requirements is not an automatic green light for surgery. You will need to undergo an extensive evaluation to determine whether a weight-loss procedure is your best option—meaning the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
This involves an assessment of your medical history and current state of physical health, as well as your psychological stability and understanding of the major lifestyle changes to which you will need to adhere.
According to the Mayo Clinic, when conducting an evaluation for bariatric surgery, the health care team considers:
- Your nutrition and weight history. The team reviews your weight trends, diet attempts, eating habits, exercise regimen, stress level, time constraints, motivation and other factors.
- Your medical condition. Some health problems can increase the risks associated with having surgery or can even be exacerbated by surgery, such as blood clots, liver disease, heart problems, kidney stones and nutritional deficiencies. The team evaluates what medications you take, how much alcohol you drink and whether you smoke. You will also be evaluated for sleep apnea and receive a thorough physical exam and laboratory testing.
- Your psychological status.Certain mental health conditions may contribute to obesity or make it more difficult for you to maintain the health benefits of bariatric surgery. These may include binge-eating disorder, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, major depression, schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder and issues related to childhood sexual abuse.
- These conditions don’t necessarily disqualify you from bariatric surgery, but your doctors will certainly want to ensure that any condition or significant source of stress is mitigated before moving forward.
- Your motivation. In order to have success with bariatric surgery, you need to understand what will be expected from you post-op. The team will assess your willingness and ability to follow through with recommendations made by your health care team and to carry out prescribed changes in your diet and exercise routine.
If you make it through the evaluation process, the final step in securing candidacy depends on your financial constraints. If you are going through insurance, you will need pre-approval from your health insurance company, which requires documentation from your doctors justifying the surgery. If you will be paying out of pocket, it is important to have a firm understanding of the costs and have a payment plan set in place, so you are not surprised by the financial burden during your recovery.
Weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet solution. It requires significant, long-term lifestyle changes that may be quite difficult to fulfill. However, nobody knows your body better than yourself. If you feel you have exhausted your options and are considering bariatric surgery, call us today at 866-407-5045 to talk about the next steps you can take towards your new beginning.