Woman named BobbiJo smiling while on treadmill after weight loss surgery
Healthy Living

Who Is a Good Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?

Jan 4 2019

Here’s who weight loss surgery is a good choice for

Have you worked hard to lose weight but aren’t seeing the pounds drop off? Or, maybe, your weight is causing additional health issues. In these cases and more, bariatric surgery can be a helpful option for meeting weight loss goals.

Bariatric surgery is a procedure that can make your stomach smaller or change how it works. You feel fuller faster when you’re eating, and you eat less. As a result, you start to lose weight. Bariatric surgery can be very helpful for some people, but it isn’t for everyone. If you’re considering one of these procedures, it’s important to learn whether they’re suitable for you.

What’s the right age?

Years ago, bariatric surgeries weren’t as popular as they are now. Doctors sometimes only let people in certain age groups have the surgeries. That’s because the procedures used to be risker for teens and people over age 60 than they were for young and middle-aged adults.

These days, there aren’t as many strict age limits on who can have bariatric surgery. Teenagers can have these procedures if they meet certain criteria. Bariatric surgery is safer for older adults than it was before, too. People who are very young or much older than age 60 might need to try other options before bariatric surgery. For example, doctors may want to wait for kids who are 11 or 12 to age more before considering the procedure. That’s because these operations can change how a child grows.

What about my weight?

While age is one element, doctors also pay close attention to your weight when you’re considering bariatric surgery. That’s because these procedures are all about helping you manage your weight. Doctors have some clear weight-related guidelines that you may need to meet to have a bariatric procedure. These include:

  • You’ve been dieting and exercising but aren’t losing weight.
  • You weigh 100 pounds or more than your ideal body weight for your height.
  • You have weight-related health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea (when you stop breathing while you’re asleep).

Your body mass index (BMI) is another guideline your doctor checks. This measurement takes your height and weight into account. Doctors use your BMI number to classify your weight into different categories. Your BMI can show if you’re overweight or obese. If your BMI is over 40 — or over 35 and you have other health issues related to your weight — you may be a good candidate for bariatric surgery.

Requirements before bariatric surgery

Doctors usually want you to meet certain criteria before bariatric surgery becomes a treatment option for you. This is because — like most surgeries — the procedure does have some risks. It’s also important that you commit to a different lifestyle after you have the surgery. That’s because it changes what and how much you eat. These changes can take some time to get used to, and you’ll want to plan for them.

Your doctor might want you to do a detailed screening before you can consider the surgery. This means the doctor evaluates your health and behaviors to make sure you’re a good candidate. The tests can also determine if you’re healthy enough to have the surgery. Some of the things your doctor might check during your screenings include:

  • Your medical condition, including what health issues you have or have had
  • How motivated you are to stick with your new diet and exercise needs
  • If you’ve had a history of eating disorders like binge eating
  • Your current and past eating and exercise habits
  • How you’re feeling mentally and emotionally

After looking at these factors, your doctor or medical team will decide if you’re ready for bariatric surgery. They might give you some restrictions and instructions. These can help you prepare for your procedure and may include:

  • Talking with a counselor who can help you get ready for the changes in your lifestyle and body
  • Losing a little weight so the surgery is easier on your body
  • Limiting certain foods and drinks
  • Starting an exercise routine
  • Quitting smoking

Learn more about the weight loss services we offer at Mercy Health.

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