Is Bariatric Surgery Right for You? Understanding the Criteria

Bariatric Surgery

and Health

For those with severe obesity, bariatric surgery often appears to be a “last resort” option. Weight loss surgery (also known as “bariatric surgery) is a major medical procedure that has the potential to cause dramatic and sustained weight loss when it is performed on an individual who meets certain criteria. Read on to learn more about the criteria that must be met in order to be considered for bariatric surgery as well as its associated health benefits and risks.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery describes a group of medical procedures whose aim is to induce weight loss through various ways, primarily by restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold and/or reducing the absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. Types of bariatric surgery include gastric bypass (which involves permanently stapling or stapling and bypassing parts of the stomach and small intestine, causing malabsorption of nutrients), sleeve gastrectomy (which involves removing most of the stomach and leaving a small tube-like stomach in its place), and adjustable gastric banding (which requires placing an inflatable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch and create a narrow passageway that slows the passage of food).

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Am I Eligible for Bariatric Surgery?

In order to be considered eligible for bariatric surgery, individuals typically need to meet the following criteria:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI): BMI is a tool used to measure a person’s body fat. For bariatric surgery, a BMI calculation of 40 or more is generally used as the eligibility requirement, although some healthcare providers may accept a lower BMI in individuals who also have other health conditions associated with obesity.
  • Weight Loss History: Evidence of unsuccessful attempts to lose weight and maintain a healthier weight through conventional means, such as following a balanced diet and exercising regularly.
  • Medical Necessity: Individuals must have a medical condition that requires bariatric surgery in order to improve or maintain their health. Common obesity-related medical conditions include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and coronary heart disease.
  • Psychological Evaluation: A psychological evaluation is performed in order to evaluate the individual’s capacity to follow through on the pre- and post-operative requirements of bariatric surgery.

Health Benefits and Risks of Bariatric Surgery

Benefits: Bariatric surgery can be an effective tool for long-term weight loss and has been associated with significant health improvements. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery can dramatically improve or resolve common obesity-related health issues such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and coronary heart disease. The American Heart Association also acknowledges that bariatric surgery may reduce cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Risks: Bariatric surgery is a major medical procedure and carries its own set of associated risks and side effects, such as infection, blood clots, and internal bleeding. In addition, because of a reduced ability to absorb food and accompanying vitamins and minerals, bariatric surgery may also lead to nutritional deficiencies and anemia. It is important to note that bariatric surgery is generally not considered a “solution” to weight loss and individuals who undergo the procedure must still maintain a balanced diet and engage in regular physical activity in order to maximize the potential benefits and long-term weight loss results.


Bariatric surgery is an effective and safe treatment option for those with severe or morbid obesity and other associated health problems, but it is not for everyone. It is important for individuals to understand the criteria, risks, and potential health benefits of bariatric surgery and to consult with their healthcare professional about if this is the right treatment for them.