If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more --
which is about 100 pounds overweight for men and about 80
pounds for women -- you are considered severely obese and
therefore a candidate for weight loss surgery.
surgery may also be an option for people with a BMI of 35 to
40 who suffer from
obesity-related problems (for example, severe sleep
apnea, obesity-related heart disease, or diabetes). For
these people, the risk of death from not having the surgery
may be greater than the risks from the possible
complications from undergoing the procedures.
In early 2011, however, the FDA approved the use of
Lap Band restrictive surgery
in those with a BMI of 30 or higher who have at least one
obesity-related condition, such as diabetes. This change
made the surgery an option for more people.
Keep in mind that as in other treatments for obesity,
results may vary. In many cases, patients are required to
show proof that their attempts at dietary weight loss have
been ineffective before surgery will be approved. A
psychological evaluation may be required by doctors to
determine your potential response to weight loss and change
in body image. Most surgeons require patients to demonstrate
serious motivation and a clear understanding of the
extensive dietary, exercise, and medical guidelines that
must be followed for the remainder of their lives after
having weight loss surgery. In addition, studies are
performed to assess the health of your heart and hormonal
systems. Nutritional counseling is also a must before and
For patients who remain severely obese after nonsurgical
approaches to weight loss have failed, or for patients who
have an obesity-related disease, surgery may be an
appropriate treatment option. But for most patients, greater
efforts toward weight control, such as changes in eating
habits, lifestyle changes, and increasing physical activity,
are more appropriate. The following questions may help you
decide if weight loss surgery is right for you.
- Have you tried to lose weight through conventional
methods of weight loss: group classes, one-on-one
counseling, calorie-controlled meal plans, food
journals, and exercise?
- Are you well-informed about the surgical procedure
and the effects of treatment?
- Are you determined to lose weight and improve your
- Are you aware of how your life may change after the
operation (adjustment to the side effects of the
surgery, including dramatically different eating
- Are you aware of the potential for serious
complications from the procedure, the associated dietary
restrictions, and the slight chance that the procedure
will not help you lose weight?
- Are you committed to life-long medical follow-up?