Bariatric Surgery Requirements – Overview
Bariatric surgery is also called weight loss surgery. This is a major surgical procedure so you will need to meet certain conditions before undergoing the surgery.
There is an in-depth process to prepare for bariatric surgery that you will need to undertake.
Weight loss surgeries are surgical procedures aimed at restricting and treating obesity. The most common types of bariatric surgeries are gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and adjustable gastric band surgery.
Qualifying for Bariatric Surgery
You can qualify and be eligible for a bariatric weight loss surgery if you meet the following criteria:
#1. If your BMI is 40 or over
#2. If your BMI is 35 (but with serious health conditions like sleep apnea or type-2 diabetes)
#3. If your BMI is 30 or over (with difficult-to-manage type-2 diabetes)
BMI is short for Body Mass Index. It is a screening chart to measure overweight and obesity. It compares a person’s weight to what is seen as “normal” for their height.
So, adults with a BMI of over 30 are classified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In general, you may be required to lose between 5 and 10 percent of your body weight before undergoing weight loss surgery.
Your physician or gastric surgeon will be able to determine the specific weight loss you will need to induce before the surgery.
Generally, a person is considered fit and eligible for bariatric surgery if the following scenarios are applicable to them:
#1. Unsuccessfully tried non-surgical treatments (lifestyle changes, medications, etc.) to lose weight
#2. Understand the potential risks and complications of bariatric surgery and agree to take a risk
#3. Willingness to change lifestyle after surgery (like healthier eating habits, regular exercises, etc.)
#4. Have considered follow-up care needed after surgery
If you are eligible for the above-stated scenarios, then you can start the actual preparation for the bariatric surgery by:
#1. Psychological evaluation – This evaluation is necessary to determine that the patient is mentally prepared for the weight loss surgery.
For this, you will be tested by a psychologist who will consider your medical history for signs of mental health conditions like depression or eating disorders.
#2. Nutritional evaluation – This test is performed by a registered dietician who will explain the necessary dietary changes you will need to make after the surgery.
#3. Weight loss plan – This is necessary to improve the results of the weight loss surgery, so you will be advised to lose a certain number of pounds before undergoing bariatric surgery.
#4. Medical clearance – A team of healthcare specialists reviews the patient’s medical and surgical history and lab tests. In this stage, the patient is also tested for sleep apnea and heart disease.
#5. Pre-surgical imaging – In case the patient has undergone surgical procedures in the past involving the gastrointestinal tract, the healthcare team will advise some imaging tests to determine the best type of weight loss surgery for them.
You may also need to undergo some additional tests which are not listed on the list, depending on your specific medical history and needs.
Getting Approval for Bariatric Surgery
You should talk with your primary care doctor if you are thinking of undergoing bariatric surgery. They can let you know if you are eligible for it and if you will make a good candidate.
When consulting your doctor, make sure to ask them the following:
#1. Do I qualify for bariatric surgery?
#2. How might bariatric surgery benefit me?
#3. Are there any non-surgical methods I should try first?
#4. Do I have any health conditions that may increase the risk of complications after the surgery?
#5. Which type of bariatric surgery is best for me?
#6. What does bariatric surgery involve?
#7. What do I need to do before and after the surgery?
#8. How much weight can I expect to lose after the surgery?
In case you are looking to get the bariatric surgery cost covered by your insurance, then you should also make sure that you fulfill the insurance provider’s specific criteria too. For this, you may need proof of:
- Medical problems related to your weight
- Earlier participation in medical weight loss programs (non-surgical)
- Letter of medical necessity from your doctor
- Complete health evaluations
It may take between 2 weeks and 2 months for your insurance provider to approve cover for the bariatric surgery.
Potential Risk of Bariatric Surgery
Just as with any other major surgical procedure, there are certain risks and complications associated with bariatric weight loss surgery too, such as:
- Breathing issues (pneumonia)
- Bleeding cuts
- Infection in the stomach
- Blood clots
- Dumping syndrome
- Leak at the surgical site
- Slipping the gastric band from its original place
- Small bowel blockage
- Spleen injury
- Irregular heartbeat
- Poor absorption of nutrients
In case you are not eligible for bariatric weight loss surgery or do not want to undergo that particular procedure, then you can choose endoscopy, gastric injections, medications, or try lifestyle modifications to get control over your increasing weight and bring it back to normal healthy levels.