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There’s a lot to consider before undergoing bariatric or weight loss surgery. Here’s some information which may help you decide if surgery is right for you.

Are you eligible for weight loss surgery?

In the United States, a person must meet the National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines to be eligible for weight loss surgery. Candidacy is largely based on the measurement of body mass index, or BMI. The guidelines require that candidates must have a minimum BMI of 40. Weight loss surgery can also be offered to candidates with a minimum BMI of 35 when they have existing weight related medical problems.

What is your BMI?

BMI is a measurement based on the ratio of your weight to your height.

Calculate your BMI

Are you a good candidate?

A good candidate

  • Is committed to making healthy lifestyle changes, such as mindful eating and active living
  • Has support from family, friends, and a support group
  • Has factored in the cost of weight loss surgery and follow-up care
  • Understands what eating will be like after surgery
  • Is 18 years of age or older

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Weight loss surgery may not be right for you

Unfortunately, not everyone is a good candidate.

If you are not willing or able to participate in long-term monitoring or to make the required lifestyle changes, weight loss surgery might not be right for you. In fact, it may potentially endanger your life.

We screen your physical and mental health before you can have surgery. The benefits of weight loss surgery must outweigh potential risks due to underlying health conditions. Some physical and mental health problems increase the risk of serious or even life-threatening complications following surgery. Before you can have surgery, certain health problems must be identified and successfully managed, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Severe or long-term (chronic) obstructive sleep apnea
  • Heart or lung disease
  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health conditions
  • Digestive tract disease, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcers, or esophagitis
  • Liver disease
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Issues with excessive bleeding

You may not be approved for surgery for other reasons, like

  • Being pregnant or planning to become pregnant within 2 years
  • Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, using marijuana or street drugs
  • Using steroids over a long period of time or within the past 15 days
  • Having a psychological condition that is not successfully managed
  • Having a medical condition that makes surgery too risky

Before being approved for weight loss surgery

Before approval, we ask you to do some things to help with long-term weight loss success, and show your commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

Here are two checklists that can help you prepare for weight loss surgery:

Patient Preparation Checklist

  • Learn about weight loss surgery, its benefits and risks, and understand what to expect after surgery
  • Understand how and why you will need to change the way you eat
  • Start a regular exercise program
  • Stop smoking
  • Permanently stop alcohol or drug use to avoid complications with your new anatomy
  • Attend a support group
  • Use reliable birth control to prevent pregnancy for at least 2 years after surgery

Medical Preparation Checklist

  • Receive clearance for mental health stability and wellness
  • Follow the recommendations of our bariatric team
  • Start taking vitamin and mineral supplements before surgery
  • Consult with your primary care doctor to make sure your medical problems are well-managed and you are up-to-date on all your Preventative Health Screenings
  • Be ready to lose weight to improve your health

Losing weight before surgery

Why do I need to lose
weight before surgery?

Surgery is only one step in the battle to lose weight. Successful surgery, paired with diet and exercise, shifts obesity from a disease that you battle to a choice you can control. We typically require that you lose some weight before having weight loss surgery. Patients who can’t change their eating habits or don’t start an exercise program will eventually gain all their weight back, despite the surgery. That’s why we want to see that you’ve made a commitment to change for the better. It helps to better ensure success in the long run.

What are the benefits of losing weight before surgery?

  • Helps you learn and live the lifestyle that you must continue after the surgery and for the rest of your life, making post-operative adjustment much easier
  • Improves pre-operative medical conditions and the safety of surgery by decreasing the complication rate
  • Helps thin out your liver
  • Decreases fat inside your abdominal cavity
  • Improves our ability to safely perform the surgery
  • Proves to you that you can change your lifestyle

Next Steps

If you think weight loss surgery may be right for you and you believe you can commit to the permanent lifestyle changes and continued monitoring necessary, let your primary care doctor know.

Once your primary care doctor alerts us of your interest, we will send you an invitation to one of our instructional classes to learn more.

Your safety before, during, and after surgery is dependent on providing the bariatric surgery team accurate information. This includes your medical, surgical, and mental health history.

Taking an active role in your health and weight loss is the most important factor in maintaining a healthy weight. People who succeed after weight loss surgery know what to expect and closely follow the necessary lifestyle changes for the rest of their lives.

Here are some Healthy Weight resources to help you.

Before surgery, you must:

  • Have the pre-surgery tests and screenings the bariatric surgery team requests
  • Attend pre-surgical appointments to learn about surgery and permanent lifestyle changes
  • Demonstrate a commitment to choosing good food options, following an exercise program, and making lifestyle changes
  • Make sure your Preventive Health Screenings up-to-date
  • Join a support group
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