Indications for Bariatric Surgery: When to Consider It for Obesity

In 2014, 2 out of every 3 adults in America were considered to be obese and 1 out of every 13 children was considered to be obese as well. Obesity is an epidemic in America, one that people have struggled to fight against for most of their lives.

If you’ve spent any portion of your life as an obese person, you know the struggles that go along with carrying that weight around. Doctors are less likely to take you seriously, finding clothes that fit is difficult, and feeling like an outsider to society can weigh heavy on your mind. 

But you’re not alone. If you have the indications for bariatric surgery, you could change your life with the help of a skilled team of professionals. Read on to learn more. 

Understanding Bariatric Surgery 

To understand why there are such strict guidelines for bariatric surgery, you need to understand what the surgery entails. 

There are three common types of bariatric surgery: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, lap band, and verticle sleeve gastrectomy.

In Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, the surgeon will make a pouch at the top of your stomach. This small pouch becomes your entire stomach, which means that the amount of food that you can tolerate becomes much smaller.

The surgeon will cut your small intestine and connect it to your new pouch. The large portion of your stomach makes the digestive juices that break down your food, but it cannot store food. 

With the lap band, or laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, a surgeon will place a band that contains a balloon around the top portion of your stomach. This method allows a doctor to control the balloon, which means that the size of the band can be adjusted. 

In verticle sleeve gastrectomy, instead of cutting your stomach into a pouch, the doctor will remove a large portion of your stomach entirely and form a tube-like structure with what remains. This method helps to control your appetite

There are a few other ways that surgeons can perform bariatric surgery, but these are the main three options. 

Indications for Bariatric Surgery 

Now that you know a little more about how bariatric surgery works, let’s take a look at the most common indications for bariatric surgery. 

Over 100 Pounds Overweight 

Most surgeons will not perform any kind of bariatric surgery on you unless you are over 100 pounds overweight, or you have a BMI of 40 or higher. 

However, there is a maximum weight as well. When a person is severely obese, it becomes unsafe to operate on them. At that point, the risks outweigh any possible benefit, as the patient might not even survive the surgery. 

Obesity-Related Diseases 

However, if you have a BMI of under 40 and you are still interested in bariatric surgery, there’s still hope. Many surgeons will still consider you for bariatric surgery if you have a BMI of 35 or higher and you suffer from a weight-related health issue. 

Some of these health issues include type 2 diabetes, uncontrollable high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. 

Inability to Lose Weight Alone

However, those two criteria are often not enough to qualify for bariatric surgery. Most doctors will need to see that you have tried to lose your weight on your own with no success. 

Many doctors will even put you on a strict diet and exercise plan before your surgery, creating milestones that you have to reach before they are willing to operate on you. 

A Long Time Overweight 

Another common indicator for bariatric surgery is that you have spent a long time overweight. While someone who hit obesity in their adulthood may need help to lose weight, it’s clear that someone who has been overweight their whole life cannot get the weight off on their own and will need assistance. 

Other Criteria 

Even if you meet all of these indicators for bariatric surgery, you may not qualify in the end. Any good bariatric surgeon will have an extensive screening process before they agree to operate. 

You’ll likely need to meet with a doctor, nutritionist, therapist, and a surgeon before you can have the surgery. The surgeon needs to be sure that you are ready physically and mentally to handle this procedure. 

The Risks of Bariatric Surgery 

Bariatric surgeons don’t put these rules in place to be cruel. There are real risks associated with bariatric surgery, and unless you have exhausted all other methods, you shouldn’t jump into it without any idea of what can go wrong. 

Here are a few of the most common things that people who undergo bariatric surgery face: 

  • Acid reflux
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Infection
  • Obstruction
  • Weight gain 

That’s right, even people who get bariatric surgery can continue to gain weight if they don’t follow the guidelines that their doctors give them. 

There are some more long-term risks to watch out for as well:

  • Dumping syndrome
  • Low blood sugar
  • Inability to digest nutrition
  • Ulcers
  • Hernias
  • Bowel obstruction

There is even some evidence that people who have attempted suicide in the past have a much greater risk of attempting suicide again after having bariatric surgery.

This is why doctors have to be so strict when considering the right candidate for bariatric weight loss surgery. 

Take Control of Your Life Today!

Bariatric surgery can be a great tool for someone ready to do the work that it takes to lose weight. It’s not a cop-out and it’s not “losing weight the easy way”.  And if you think that you have some of the indications for bariatric surgery, find a surgeon near you today. 

If you are struggling to lose weight, know that you’re not alone and you don’t have to do it alone. Contact us today to learn how we can provide you with nutritional coaching, lifestyle behavioral support, and other methods to help you get the weight off and keep it off for life! 

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