Who is a Candidate for
Weight Loss Surgery?
Obesity is a chronic and complex disease, and the causes are often unclear. Evidence suggests that there is frequently more than one single cause. Genetic, metabolic, environmental, psychological and social factors can all play a part.
Many people are so overweight that it affects their overall health and life expectancy. Obese people often have diseases (known as co-morbidities), such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and arthritis, that affect their quality of life and can be life threatening if not carefully controlled.
Many severely overweight people have tried various methods for losing weight throughout their lives with no lasting success. Your physician will certainly want to hear about your attempts at losing weight, and your insurance company may require documentation of the methods you have tried in the past, but in order to be eligible for weight loss surgery certain criteria must be met.
The primary criterion is that you must be morbidly obese. There are several medically accepted criteria for defining morbid obesity. You are likely to be morbidly obese if you:
- Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 40.
- Have a BMI of at least 35 and are experiencing negative health effects related to obesity, such as high blood pressure or diabetes
- Are 100 pounds or more over your ideal body weight
Additionally, you must meet the following criteria to qualify for weight loss surgery. You must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a low probability of success with non-surgical weight loss
- Be an acceptable operative risk
- Have a high probability of success with surgery
- Have motivation and an absence of ongoing psychosis or substance abuse
- Have a willingness to actively participate in follow-up care and obesity surgery support groups
- Understand the risks, benefits and requirements for follow-up care
It is important that you understand that weight loss surgery is not a quick fix…it is a lifelong commitment to a healthier way of life. Your willingness to commit to the things that will make this surgery an ongoing success is, in itself, a basic criterion for having the surgery. For example, the changes made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes in your eating habits. Post-surgery dietary guidelines will vary by physician, but you will definitely be required to make significant changes in the foods you choose and the amounts you eat.
You will also be strongly encouraged to participate in regular physical activity. The type and amount will vary according to your physical condition, but you will be less successful in losing weight and keeping it off if you don’t commit to being physically active. Nutritional deficiencies can also occur after weight loss surgery and need to be monitored by your physician on a regular basis.
Support groups will provide you with an excellent opportunity to discuss various personal and professional issues. Although weight loss surgery can provide fairly rapid physical changes, it does not repair any emotional or psychological damage that could have occurred throughout your years of dealing with obesity. Talking with others who have shared similar challenges and experiences can go a long way towards helping you learn to cope with the emotional issues that can limit your success. Most surgeons who perform weight loss surgery will also tell you that attending support groups after surgery will help you reach and maintain your weight loss goals.
Only you, your doctor and the staff at the Surgical Weight Loss Center can determine if you meet all of the basic criteria. If you are considering weight loss surgery at DeKalb Medical, attending one of our FREE mandatory informational seminars can help you decide if this surgery is right for you. Call 404.501.LOSE (5673) to register.