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July 25, 2023

Bariatric Surgery Candidates: Who Meets the Requirements?  

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Bariatric surgery has emerged as a transformative option for individuals with obesity who are struggling to lose weight from other forms of obesity treatment. However, this life-changing procedure is more than just a one-size-fits-all solution. Determining the ideal candidates for bariatric surgery requires carefully evaluating various factors, including medical history, body mass index, lifestyle habits, and psychological readiness. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the crucial aspects that medical professionals consider when assessing potential candidates for bariatric surgery, shedding light on the transformative possibilities and ensuring the best possible outcomes for those embarking on this challenging yet empowering journey toward improved health and well-being.

What Disqualifies a Patient From Bariatric Surgery?

While bariatric surgery can be life-changing for many individuals struggling with obesity, it is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the procedure. Several factors may disqualify a patient from undergoing bariatric surgery:

  • Insufficient BMI: Bariatric surgery is typically recommended for individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher or a BMI of 35 or higher with significant obesity-related health issues, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. If a patient’s BMI does not meet these criteria, they may not qualify for the surgery.
  • Psychological Issues: Bariatric surgery requires a significant commitment to lifestyle changes and emotional readiness to cope with the challenges and adjustments that follow the procedure. Patients with severe untreated mental health issues, such as severe depression, anxiety, or eating disorders, may be disqualified due to the increased risk of post-surgery complications.
  • Lack of emotional support: The emotional toll of bariatric surgery and the subsequent lifestyle changes can be challenging for patients. A strong support system of friends, family, or support groups can provide much-needed emotional support during recovery. Without this support, patients may face increased stress, anxiety, and depression, hindering their recovery and weight loss journey.
  • Uncontrolled Medical Conditions: Individuals with unchecked or untreated medical conditions, such as heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, or blood clotting disorders, may not be suitable candidates for bariatric surgery due to the added risks the surgery could pose.
  • Substance Abuse: Patients with a history of substance abuse, including alcohol or drugs, may be disqualified from bariatric surgery due to the potential for non-compliance with post-surgery guidelines and an increased risk of complications.
  • Pregnancy or Planning for Pregnancy: Bariatric surgery is generally not recommended for pregnant women or individuals planning to become pregnant in the immediate future, as pregnancy can significantly impact nutritional needs and the effectiveness of the surgery.
  • Inability to Comply with Pre- and Post-operative Guidelines: Bariatric surgery requires strict adherence to pre-operative preparation and lifelong commitment to post-operative dietary and lifestyle changes. Patients who cannot commit to these requirements may be disqualified.
  • Previous Gastrointestinal Surgery: Some prior gastrointestinal surgeries may increase the risks associated with bariatric procedures or interfere with their effectiveness.
  • Age: Bariatric surgery is typically considered for individuals aged 18 to 65. Younger or older patients may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

It is crucial for healthcare professionals to thoroughly assess each patient’s medical history, lifestyle, and readiness for surgery to determine the appropriateness of bariatric procedures and ensure the best possible outcomes.

Screening Patients for Bariatric Surgery

Screening patients for bariatric surgery is comprehensive and involves multiple steps to ensure that the procedure is safe and appropriate for the individual. Here’s an overview of how the screening process typically works:

  1. Initial Consultation: The process usually begins with an initial consultation between the patient and a bariatric surgeon or a multidisciplinary team, including a surgeon, dietitian, psychologist, and other relevant healthcare professionals. The patient’s medical history, previous weight loss attempts, and current health status are assessed during this consultation.
  1. Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculation: The patient’s BMI is calculated using height and weight. Individuals with a BMI of 40 or higher or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health issues may be considered potential candidates for bariatric surgery.
  1. Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination is conducted to assess the patient’s overall health, identify any underlying medical conditions, and evaluate the presence of obesity-related comorbidities.
  1. Psychological Evaluation: Bariatric surgery candidates undergo a psychological evaluation to determine their emotional readiness for the procedure and to identify any psychological factors that may impact their post-operative success. This evaluation helps identify patients needing additional support or counseling before and after the surgery.
  1. Nutritional Assessment: A registered dietitian evaluates the patient’s dietary habits and nutritional status. This assessment helps identify any nutrient deficiencies and prepares the patient for the nutritional changes necessary before and after surgery.
  1. Medical Tests: Various medical tests, such as blood tests, ECG (electrocardiogram), and imaging studies, are conducted to evaluate the patient’s overall health and identify any potential risks or contraindications for surgery.
  1. Education and Informed Consent: Throughout the screening process, patients receive comprehensive education about the different types of bariatric procedures, the potential risks and benefits, and the lifestyle changes required for long-term success. Informed consent is obtained, ensuring that patients fully understand the implications of the surgery.
  1. Insurance and Financial Considerations: Patients may need to address insurance coverage and financial matters during screening. This includes verifying insurance coverage for bariatric surgery and discussing payment options.

During the screening process for bariatric surgery, patients often come armed with many questions seeking to gain a comprehensive understanding of the procedure and its potential impact on their lives. Some of the most common questions patients might ask revolve around the different types of bariatric surgeries available and which one suits them best, the anticipated weight loss outcomes, potential risks, complications, as well as the post-operative recovery process and necessary lifestyle adjustments. Patients may also inquire about the impact of the surgery on existing medical conditions, the need for dietary changes, and how the surgery will affect their digestive system. Financial considerations, insurance coverage, and success rates are often topics of interest, and the types of support and counseling available before and after the surgery. Ultimately, these curious and insightful questions reflect patients’ eagerness to make informed decisions, ensuring they are well-prepared for the transformative journey.

Bariatric surgery has been surrounded by myths that may create misconceptions and unfounded fears. One prevalent myth is that bariatric surgery is an effortless shortcut to weight loss, but in reality, it requires significant dedication and lifestyle changes for lasting results. Contrary to another misconception, bariatric surgery is not excessively risky, as advancements in medical technology and experienced surgical teams have considerably improved safety profiles. Patients might worry that post-surgery, they will be deprived of enjoying food. However, the procedure aims to regulate appetite and promote healthier eating while allowing culinary enjoyment.

Additionally, bariatric surgery is not a cosmetic procedure; it primarily addresses severe obesity and related health conditions, significantly improving overall well-being. Contrary to the myth of nutrient deficiencies, proper guidance, and supplementation can effectively prevent such issues. Lastly, while bariatric surgery is a powerful tool for weight loss, it is not a magic fix, and sustained success relies on patients actively embracing healthier lifestyles. By dispelling these myths, patients can approach bariatric surgery with realistic expectations, informed decisions, and a newfound sense of hope for improved health and quality of life.

Determining who meets the requirements for bariatric surgery is a complex and personalized process that involves a comprehensive evaluation of medical history, BMI, lifestyle habits, and psychological readiness. This life-altering procedure has proven to be a transformative option for individuals struggling with severe obesity and obesity-related health conditions. However, it is crucial to dispel bariatric surgery myths and misconceptions to ensure patients approach the decision with clarity and realistic expectations. Through open communication, collaboration with patients, and a commitment to embracing necessary lifestyle changes, bariatric surgery can be a powerful tool for lasting weight loss.

For more information on bariatric surgery for obesity treatment, explore our upcoming courses and conferences.