Are you a candidate for weight loss surgery? Learn more today.
As many as 2 out of 3 Americans may be overweight or obese, according to estimates by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Carrying around extra pounds contributes to a variety of health issues.
- If you’re considering weight loss surgery as a solution, realize it involves a serious commitment to making positive lifestyle changes and it shouldn’t be your first attempt at losing weight.
- If other efforts, such as making changes to your diet and trying different exercise routines, fail to provide significant results, however, you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery.
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Weight Loss Surgery and Your BMI
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), ideal candidates for weight loss surgery must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above. BMI refers to a calculation of your body weight based on your height. For the purpose of weight loss surgery, the BMI requirement only applies to adults 18 years of age and older since this approach to shedding pounds isn’t recommended for anyone younger.
A normal BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9 while 25 to 29.9 is classified as overweight and 30 and above is obese. Morbidly obese is a BMI of 40 or more. You may also be considered for the weight loss surgery if you have a BMI of 35 or above with at least two conditions related to obesity. You may also be considered with a BMI between 30 and 34 if you have health problems related to your weight, although this will be decided on an individual basis.
Weight-related conditions include:
- Chronic high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
Weight and Weight Loss History
The first step in the evaluation process will be a look at your history with weight issues. This part of the screening process will include a discussion of your previous attempts at weight loss and your overall diet. Many people who have weight loss have made serious attempts to lose weight previously only to either gain the weight back or put on more weight. There could be several reasons for such patterns, including physical and psychological issues as well as problems with metabolism. Your current amount and extent of physical activity and exercise will also be considered, as will your weight trends and patterns.
Medical and Health Evaluation
Heart disease, kidney and liver functioning issues, and serious nutritional deficiencies are some of the health problems that may make weight loss surgery less safe. You will undergo a thorough medical exam that will include a physical exam, laboratory testing, a review of your medical history, and an assessment of your overall health. Even if you have health-related issues likely to improve with significant weight loss, those conditions should be as under control as possible prior to surgery.
Medical and health considerations also include:
- Whether or not you smoke or use tobacco products
- How much alcohol you normally consume
- Which medications you are current taking
How mentally prepared you are for weight loss surgery is just as important as your physical health. Certain mental health issues, such as chronic or series depression and persistent anxiety and high stress levels, may contribute to obesity. Some people also have a history of substance abuse or binge eating disorders related to self-awareness and esteem issues and other emotional factors. Having a history of psychological problems won’t necessarily disqualify you from being considered for weight loss surgery. However, surgery may be postponed until such issues are sufficiently managed and treated.
Motivation and Expectations
An equally important part of your overall evaluation for weight loss surgery is your motivation. The team evaluating you will look at how willing you are to follow diet and exercise recommendations. This part of the evaluation typically includes a discussion of expectations. While weight loss results with surgery can be significant, many patients have periods where weight loss slows down or levels off. Your long-term weight loss goals will also be considered. You are more likely to see positive results post-surgery if you have a realistic idea of what you may experience.
While there are many appealing reasons to choose weight loss surgery as your method for weight loss, it’s not something for everyone. The long-term success of this type of surgery, regardless of the particular procedure you have done, will depend on your ability to make permanent changes with how you eat and exercise. If you think you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery, start with an initial consultation to discuss your options, ask questions, and begin your evaluation.