Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery?

Question Below Submitted By:  

Kellie (a patient from Bloomington, MN)

Am I a candidate for weight loss surgery? I’m in a women’s group and three of us (ironically) are considering weight loss surgery. I’m looking to gather information for us as a group. Here are the questions I’m hoping to get answers to:

  • How do you know if you’re a candidate?
  • What weight do you need to be in order to qualify?
  • Are there any health conditions that affect our ability to qualify?

Any additional information about qualifying is appreciated!

Thanks,
Kellie

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Expert Responses to the Question Above

Surgeon Response To: Am I candidate for weight loss surgery?

by: Dr. John Rabkin

Kellie,

In order to qualify for Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) a prospective patient must be "morbidly obese." This is defined by having a Body Mass Index or BMI (which is a ratio of one's height to weight) of 40 or greater or 35 or greater when one or more of the obesity related medical problems such as diabetes mellitus, obstructive sleep apnea, or high blood pressure are also present. Your BMI can be readily calculated using available on-line BMI calculating tools. For certain available WLS procedures (LapBand) having one or more of those medical problems along with a lower BMI of 30 or greater will qualify a patient for WLS.

Every prospective WLS patient needs to be fully counseled and individually evaluated to assess their suitability to proceed with WLS: WLS is NOT for everyone. In certain situations, despite 'qualifying' for WLS based on the criteria outlined above, it would not be in a given patient's best interest to undergo WLS. An example is if a patient has pre-existing medical problems such as heart or lung failure that would make surgery too risky for that given patient. Another example would be a patient who wouldn't agree to comply with the necessary aftercare. For example, patients must keep in mind that WLS is a 'tool' to help patients lose weight and that the surgical procedure itself without active participation of the patient in the entire WLS program cannot be considered a 'cure' for obesity.

My recommendation is that you along with your other women's group members seek out and participate in a WLS informational seminar available or support group in your local community. This will also provide you and the others of your group the opportunity to meet with patients who have already undergone WLS and can share with you their experiences to help guide your WLS decision making.

John M. Rabkin, M.D.
Pacific Laparoscopy

(click here for Dr. Rabkin's full bio & contact info)

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

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