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Weight Loss Surgery: Basics

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Bariatric surgery is a procedure designed to make the stomach smaller so you feel satisfied with less food. It is intended for people who are morbidly obese and have not had success with other weight loss therapies such as diet, exercise, medications. Other candidates include those who are obese and have one or more co-morbidity. Bariatric surgery is not cosmetic surgery and it does not involve the surgical removal of adipose (fat) tissue. Candidates for weight loss surgery must understand the risks of bariatric surgery and must be committed to long-term nutritional and lifestyle changes.

Morbid Obesity

Morbid obesity is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more, which is roughly equal to 80 pounds or more over ideal body weight for a woman. The disease of morbid obesity interferes with basic physical functions such as breathing or walking. Long-term effects of the disease include shorter life expectancy, serious health consequences in the form of weight-related health problems (co-morbid conditions) such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and a lower quality of life with fewer economic and social opportunities.

The causes of morbid obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom, it is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that, in many cases, underlying causes of morbid obesity are genetic, environmental, and social. Studies have demonstrated once the problem is established, efforts such as dieting and exercise programs have a limited ability to provide effective long-term relief.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a measure used to index a person’s height and weight. BMI allows healthcare professionals and patients to better understand health issues associated with a specific weight classification (classifications such as obesity and morbid obesity).

BMI CALCULATOR
BMI Classification Health Risk
Under 18.5 Underweight Minimal
18.5 - 24.9 Normal Weight Minimal
25 - 29.9 Overweight Increased
30 - 34.9 Obese High
35 - 39.9 Severely Obese Very High
40 and over Morbidly Obese Extremely High
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Candidates for Weight Loss Surgery

Patients should have:

  • 80 pounds or more of excess weight; or a BMI of 40 or greater
  • A BMI of 35 or greater with one or more co-morbid condition
  • Understanding the risks of bariatric surgery
  • Commitment to long-term dietary and other lifestyle changes as recommended by the surgeon
  • A history of weight loss treatments that failed
  • A complete examination including medical tests

The BMI classification and health risk information provided above are based on Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Over-weight and Obese Adults published by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and National Institute of Health. Health risks include type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Please note that the BMI does not distinguish between excess fat and muscle. It is possible for heavily muscled individuals to have a BMI in excess of 25 without increased health risks. If your BMI is below 19, you may be below the safety minimum.

Although there are several criteria used to determine if you are a possible candidate for the procedure, a BMI of 40 or greater suggests that you may benefit. If you do not meet the BMI or weight criteria, you still may be considered for surgery if your BMI is over 35 and you are suffering from one or more health problems related to your weight such as type-2 diabetes, hypertension, or sleep apnea. However, we consider all patients individually, so contact us by completing this form>> and let's discuss what is right for you.