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Are You A Candidate For Weight-Loss Surgery?

May 5, 2008
In recent years, weight-loss surgery has emerged as an incredibly effective tool in helping patients manage obesity and make healthy lifestyle choices. However, weight-loss surgery is not for everyone, so you should understand the key factors used to determine if you are a good candidate for weight-loss surgery, like the LAP-BAND System.

While there are several medical factors that can determine whether or not you are eligible for weight-loss surgery; if you qualify, your commitment to the long-term weight-loss process will greatly impact the results. You may want to consider some of these issues on your own, but meeting with a weight-loss surgeon will help you gain an understanding of both the procedure and the lifestyle changes required afterwards.

Body mass index

The body mass index (BMI) requirements for weight-loss surgery were originally set by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and have been in place since the 1990s. As a result, weight-loss surgeons will look for patients with a BMI of at least 40 or a body weight at least 100 pounds over ideal weight. Patients with a BMI between 35 and 39 may also be considered for weight-loss surgery if suffering from at least one health condition related to obesity, including, but not limited to, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, depression and high cholesterol. BMI is the most commonly used method of determining an individual's level of obesity. By using theBMI calculator provided by NewHope Bariatrics, you can see where you fall amongst the following BMI classifications:

* Healthy Body Weight - BMI from 18.5 to 24.9
* Overweight - BMI from 25.0 to 29.9
* Obese - BMI from 30 to 34.9
* Severely Obese - BMI from 35 to 39.9
* Morbidly Obese - BMI 40 and above

Failure of traditional weight-loss methods

Before agreeing to operate, weight-loss surgeons also need to determine if their patients have attempted to lose weight on their own. In most cases, surgeons will require that patients have tried traditional diet and exercise regimens prior to considering weight-loss surgery and documented the results. And in some cases weight-loss surgery patients have participated in medically supervised weight-loss programs. Weight-loss surgeons use this information to determine if their patients are committed to weight loss and lifestyle changes.Documentation of weight-loss efforts is also important when approaching the funding of weight-loss surgery. Like weight-loss surgeons, insurance providers typically require prospective patients to provide proof of repeated efforts to lose weight without surgical intervention.

Overall Health and Lifestyle

While there are many health conditions that may increase the urgency of weight-loss surgery, weight-loss surgeons will require all patients to meet certain lifestyle requirements as part of the program. To ensure that patients undergoing weight-loss surgery are able to experience long-term success and improve their overall health, surgeons will look for patients that avoid smoking, drinking and the abuse of drugs. If considering weight-loss surgery, it is important to eliminate these habits prior to beginning the process. After surgery, patients will be expected to avoid smoking and illicit drug use, while alcohol consumption should occur on a limited basis.

Commitment

Lastly, it is very important that all prospective weight-loss surgery patients be committed to permanent lifestyle changes. After ensuring that patients understand both the risks and rewards inherent in weight-loss surgery, some insurance providers will require psychological evaluations. As weight-loss surgery is not a magic bullet to erase obesity, it is important for all patients to understand the role that better eating habits and exercise play in the recovery process. Additionally, most weight-loss surgery procedures will require patients to meet regularly with doctors, attend support groups or meet with medical specialists to help support specific areas of follow-up care. The decision to have weight-loss surgery should not be taken lightly, and hence, doctors and insurance providers will insist that any patient undergoing the procedure is fully committed to each part of the lifelong process.

If you are trying to determine if you are a candidate for weight-loss surgery, you should consider your BMI and your past experiences with traditional weight-loss methods. If you feel you meet the criteria outlined here, you should then carefully consider both the potential benefits and responsibilities of weight-loss surgery. Though you may be unsure if weight-loss surgery is right for you, a consultation with a weight-loss surgeon will provide extensive insight into your condition and information about life after the procedure. In the end, if you are a good candidate for the procedure and feel prepared for the necessary lifestyle changes, weight-loss surgery can be the first important step towards a longer and healthier life.
About the Author
Carole S. Guinane, a Chief Clinical Officer writes articles about obesity and weight loss for New Hope Today.
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