How To Qualify for Bariatric Surgery

Surgeons at work

Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the control and treatment of obesity. Bariatric surgery is simply another term for weight loss surgery. In order to qualify for bariatric surgery, you must be classified as morbidly obese. In other words, if you have been looking for a way to shed those fifty pounds that have been plaguing you for most of your life, bariatric surgery is not the option for you. Bariatric surgery is a surgery of last resort for those who are classified as morbidly obese. Here are the criteria that you must meet in order to qualify for bariatric surgery:

  1. You must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher. The body mass index is a system used to establish standards for what is considered overweight, obese, and morbidly obese. The BMI is calculated by dividing the person's weight in kilograms by the square of the person's height in meters. Keep in mind that there are 2.2 pounds per kilogram and 39.37 inches per meter. If your math skills are not quite up to the gymnastics required for this calculation, then you can use the BMI calculator provided by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute here at its website. If your BMI is 25 or more, you are considered overweight; 30 or more, obese; and 40 or more, morbidly obese. An approximate measure of morbid obesity is being 100 pounds or more overweight.


  2. You must have a BMI of 35 or higher with at least one co-morbidity. A list of co-morbidities includes:
    • Diabetes
    • Cardiovascular disease
    • High blood pressure
    • Sleep apnea
    • Asthma
    • Hypercholesterolemia
    • Degenerative Joint Disease
    • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
    • Incontinence
    • Psychosocial Problems
    • Reproductive Problems/Infertility

  3. You must have tried lifestyle changes that include healthful eating habits and regular exercise. Most bariatric surgeons believe that weight loss surgeries work best in conjunction with behavioral and dietary changes. There is also a correlation between the patient's motivation levels and the success of the surgery so surgeons prefer to work with patients whom they feel will be able to manage the post-operative requirements, which include significant dietary and behavioral modifications.

Remember that even if you qualify for bariatric surgery, the surgery itself is risky, and has long-term consequences such as requiring vitamin supplementation and regular follow-up (usually including blood work) for the rest of your life. You can read more about how to choose the weight loss surgery that is appropriate for you here: How To Choose Weight Loss Surgery.


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