Evaluation for Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery is a type of surgery to help you lose weight. It is a choice for some people who are obese and not able to lose weight with other methods. It may also be a choice if you are overweight and have a health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure. These and certain other health problems can get better with weight loss.
Benefits of bariatric surgery
Bariatric surgery may help you lose a large amount of extra weight and keep it off. This can help prevent or treat health problems associated with obesity such as:
High blood pressure
Certain lung diseases such as asthma
In some cases, a health problem linked to weight may go away after weight loss, but in other cases it may only partially go away, or may not improve at all. People who get surgery tend to lose more weight than people who get medical treatment for their weight loss. This means that surgery is more likely to help with problems linked to obesity, such as diabetes or sleep apnea. But the results are not the same for everyone. Some people do not lose as much weight as they want after surgery.
Risks of bariatric surgery
All surgery has risks. Your risks may be different according to your general health, your age, the type of surgery you choose, and the amount of weight you need to lose. Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks that most apply to you. Risks of bariatric surgery include:
Blockage of your bowels (intestinal obstruction)
Need for follow-up surgery
Gallstones (a later problem)
Nutritional deficiencies (a later problem)
Psychological difficulties after the procedure
Regain of some weight after surgery
Is bariatric surgery right for you?
Healthcare providers most often advise bariatric surgery to people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. BMI is a method of screening for a weight category using a person’s height and weight for calculation. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 means overweight. A BMI higher than 30 means obese. Your healthcare provider may also suggest bariatric surgery if your BMI is between 35 and 40 and you have a health problem that may get better with weight loss.
Bariatric surgery is not the only treatment for obesity. Your healthcare provider may want you to try other treatments first. These may include working with a dietitian or using a weight-loss medicine.
Your healthcare team will only do the surgery if they know it will give you health benefits. For the surgery to be a success, you will need to make lifelong changes to your diet and lifestyle. Your healthcare team will want to know that you are ready for the life changes that go with surgery.
The approval process
You will need to go through an in-depth process to be approved for bariatric surgery. This is done to find out if you are ready for the surgery, and if it will help you. And you will need to find out if your health insurance plan will cover the costs of the surgery.
You’ll need to meet with healthcare providers such as:
A surgeon, who must confirm that you are a good candidate for surgery
A mental healthcare provider, who can look at your emotional readiness for the surgery
A dietitian, who will look to see if you are ready to make the needed changes
A primary healthcare provider, who can look at your general health and readiness for surgery
A heart healthcare provider, who can make sure your heart is healthy for surgery
A lung healthcare provider, who can make sure your lungs are healthy for surgery
All of these healthcare providers must agree that the surgery is safe for you.
Before your approval, you will also need to:
Lose some weight before your surgery, to prevent problems
Work with healthcare providers to treat medical or emotional problems
A big decision
Bariatric surgery is a big step. It will change your eating habits for the rest of your life. Make sure you fully understand the risks and benefits. Ask for support from your partner, family, and friends.
Tests before bariatric surgery
You will need some exams and tests. These are to make sure you are healthy enough for the surgery and recovery. You may need tests such as:
Blood tests to check for anemia, infection, hormone levels, and kidney function
Screening for nutrient deficiencies
Chest X-ray, to help make sure your heart and lungs are healthy
Echocardiogram, if more information about your heart is needed
Electrocardiogram, to look at your heart rhythm
Pulmonary function tests, to see of your lungs are healthy
Having realistic weight loss goals
It’s important to have a realistic weight-loss goal for your surgery. Most people don't lose all of their extra weight after surgery. You may lose one-half to two-thirds of your excess body weight. This depends on the type of surgery you have. Your healthcare provider can give you a more exact idea of what you can expect.
Losing this amount of weight may help any health conditions you have, even if you still have extra weight. You may be able to reduce or stop some of the medicines that you take. You may have more energy and a better self-image. Having a realistic weight-loss goal can help keep you motivated. It can help keep you on track with your good eating habits. Your healthcare providers will give you a realistic idea of how much you can expect to lose after your surgery.