Who Can Get Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is a procedure that helps to make the size of your stomach smaller. There are different types of Bariatric surgeries

Obesity has become a common disease affecting people’s lives by increasing the risk and leading to major health issues. But with the help of bariatric surgeries, obese and overweight individuals can now lose their excess and unwanted fat. But like all surgical and invasive treatments, being an eligible candidate is mandatory before undergoing any weight loss surgery.

What are Bariatric Surgery and Its Different Types?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is a procedure that helps to make the size of your stomach smaller. By making your stomach smaller, you can’t comfortably eat as much food as you used to. This causes you to feel full with smaller amounts of food, which causes weight loss.

There are different types of Bariatric surgery treatments, and depending upon the weight, health history, and other necessary aspects, a licensed healthcare practitioner prescribes an obese patient bariatric surgeries. Out of these surgeries, the most common types are:

  • Gastric Sleeve
  • Gastric Banding
  • Intragastric Ballooning
  • Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch

Who Can Get Bariatric Surgery?

Previously, bariatric surgery was only available to people who were morbidly obese or overweight with comorbidities. Comorbidities are medical conditions that an individual experiences simultaneously with the primary medical condition being addressed.

An example of this is being obese in addition to having high blood sugar or high blood pressure. Who can get bariatric surgery now has recently changed. A group of bariatric surgery experts met and reviewed studies done on obesity and the efficacy of treatments for obesity.

These experts determined that people who are morbidly obese can get bariatric surgery even if they do not have other health conditions such as high blood pressure or high blood sugar. Thus, these surgeries have become easy for many people who simply want to get rid of their extra and localized fat.

Today, many people successfully change their appearance with the help of bariatric surgeries. Obese people cannot rely on strict diets and exercises but can be treated with easier and more effective alternatives.

Researchers declare these surgeries completely safe. Additionally, they found that in some ethnic groups, they needed to adjust the recommendations for surgery because these people developed complications of obesity at lower weights. All this to say, bariatric surgery is now becoming more available to people with morbid obesity regardless of other health conditions.

Why is This Change Important?

Many people who are morbidly obese have already tried to lose weight with lifestyle changes, like eating healthier and exercising more or with medications. But like every disease, obesity does not leave easily and sometimes needs additional aid to allow obese people to get back to a healthier lifestyle. However, for some people, these are not good options, and they do not lose weight. In surgeries, there can be some complications and issues that doctors and patients must thoroughly consider prior to undergoing these minimally invasive treatments.

So, instead of waiting until these people start to have other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, to get surgery, they can get it solely if they are morbidly obese. Making surgery more available allows these people to have the weight loss they desire and prevent the development of other lifelong health conditions.

How Do I Know If I’m Considered Morbidly Obese?

When you go to the doctor, you will hear them say “BMI” or body mass index. Essentially this takes your height and weight into account to determine if the amount of fat in your body is appropriate according to your height. People with high BMI values have too much fat in proportion to their height. BMI values greater than 35 indicate morbid obesity. BMI does not consider the areas of your body that carry the most fat. Whether you carry most of your fat around your abdomen or in your legs can change your risk of other complications of being overweight.

What Do I Do If I’m Interested in Bariatric Surgery?

If you are experiencing morbid obesity and think bariatric surgery would be a good option for you, talk to your doctor! They can help to explain more about what options may be best for your situation. Also, a doctor can tell you more about the risks and benefits of surgery, so you feel confident making a decision.

Eva Shelton, M.D.

Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital

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