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Bariatric Surgery Requirements: Who's Eligible?

By  Meagan Drillinger
Patients considering bariatric surgery must meet a variety of qualifications in order to be eligible for the procedure.

Bariatric surgery, the umbrella term for gastric bypass and other weight loss surgeries, assists in weight loss by changing a person’s digestive system. There are several different types of bariatric procedures, some of which involve restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold, while others reduce the amount of nutrients the body absorbs. Some procedures offer a combination of both.

While bariatric surgery is proven to be highly effective, it is not the recommended solution for everyone. Bear in mind that bariatric surgery can be major surgery, and with that comes the potential for risks and side effects. Therefore there are certain qualifications that must be met in order to be considered eligible for a bariatric procedure.

Who is eligible for bariatric surgery?

According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (AMBS), the qualifications for bariatric surgery include, :

  • A body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 40, or more than 100 pounds overweight. You can calculate your BMI here.
  • A BMI greater than or equal to one more more obesity-related comorbidities, such as: heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes
  • Inability to achieve a healthy weight loss for a period of time

Bariatric surgery is intended for individuals who plan to make lifestyle changes following the procedure. Patients may be asked for follow-up visits with a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist, and a mental health professional.

Who is not eligible for bariatric surgery?

An extensive pre-surgery screening process is required in most cases, which would involve a consultation with a team of professionals, including a doctor, dietician, psychologist, and surgeon, according to Mayo Clinic.

These experts will look further into your weight history, diet attempts, eating habits, exercise, stress, and other factors. They will also evaluate your health history, such as blood clots, heart problems, kidney stones, or nutritional deficiencies. Any of these may deem a person ineligible for bariatric surgery

Other factors include your mental health conditions, or whether or not you have a history of a binge-eating disorder, substance abuse, anxiety, major depression, schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder, or issues related to childhood sexual abuse.

Even if you are approved for bariatric surgery, it could potentially be delayed or canceled if your team of doctors finds:

  • You are not psychologically or medically ready for surgery
  • You have not made appropriate diet or exercise changes
  • You have gained weight during the evaluation