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Am I a Candidate?

If you are morbidly obese and have struggled and failed to lose and keep off weight in conventional ways - through diet and exercise - surgery may be your best option for success.

Many factors will determine whether weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, is right for you. One important factor is your weight, and whether you have other conditions that would make bariatric surgery too risky to undertake.

If weight loss surgery is a good option for you, probably the most important factor is your commitment to making serious lifestyle changes that will enable you to remain at a healthy weight following surgery.  Lifelong nutritional modification, exercise, and long-term follow up are important to success.

Weight Qualifications (Body Mass Index)

Persons who are considered morbidly obese are generally those who are than 100 pounds over their ideal body weight, or with a body mass index (BMI) of 35 with medical conditions associated with obesity or over 40 without associated medical conditions.

The BMI is calculated using a formula that includes your height and weight. 

Other Factors

In addition to weight, other factors may make you a candidate for weight loss surgery. As noted, most people with a BMI over 40 are considered morbidly obese. If you have other conditions, which are known as co-morbid conditions, and a BMI of 35 or more, you also may be a candidate for bariatric surgery.

Co-morbid conditions are additional disorders or diseases that exist along with the disease of obesity-for example, high blood pressure, coronary disease, or type 2 diabetes. See information on co-morbid conditions in Understanding Obesity.

Summary of Requirements

Organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery have issued guidelines about whether someone is a candidate for weight loss surgery, but there is no absolute set of rules that determines which patients are accepted and which patients are not accepted for surgery.

Our expert surgeons evaluate every patient individually for bariatric surgery. They use the following as guidelines while making their assessments:

Bariatric surgery may be right for you if:

  1. You are at least 18 years old.
  2. You are approximately 100 pounds or more above ideal body weight as described in life insurance height/weight charts, and/or have a BMI of 35 or greater with comorbidities (health problems), OR have a BMI of 40 or greater without co-morbidities and are less than 400 pounds.
  3. You have failed at previous attempts to achieve lasting weight loss.
  4. You have physical problems and/or diseases related to obesity, including but not limited to high blood pressure, elevated blood fats, heart problems, hypertension, sleep apnea, chronic back pain or degenerative arthritis.
  5. You have been overweight for more than 5 years.
  6. Your serious attempts to lose weight have had only short-term success.
  7. You do not have any other disease that may have caused you to be overweight.
  8. You are prepared to make major changes in your eating habits and lifestyle.
  9. You will continue working with the doctor on an ongoing basis for lifetime follow-up care.

Bariatric surgery may NOT be right for you if:

  1. You have medical conditions that make the surgery too risky.
  2. You currently have a problem with drug, alcohol or tobacco abuse.
  3. You have a psychiatric condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
  4. You are not prepared to make dietary changes and incorporate physical activity into your life.
  5. You are not committed to lifelong follow-up.
  6. You have had extensive abdominal operations or hernia repairs.
  7. You are pregnant.