What Is The Minimum Weight For Bariatric Surgery?

Posted on: 1st Mar, 2024


The minimum weight for bariatric surgery is often a lot lower than people think. And it is not because the surgeons just want to do more cases or make more money, but rather because the health data shows unambiguously that illness goes down and health improves after bariatric surgery—even at lower weights than we once imagined.

The Newest Guidelines For Minimum Weight Requirements

The newest guidelines do not generally start with weight exactly but instead use the body mass index or BMI. The BMI is calculated in the metric system using kilograms then divided by our height in meters with that number squared. So, height plays a big part in the BMI number. For over 30 years, most of the world’s health and advisory bodies have recommended bariatric surgery when the body mass index is over 35 for those people who have conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or obstructive sleep apnea. Then they recommend approval of bariatric surgery for anyone with a body mass index over 40.

To give a little context, a person who is 5 foot 5 inches and weighs 250 pounds has a body mass index of around 42. That same person who is 5’5″ who weighs 220 pounds as a body mass index of around 37.

What has changed recently is that the cut off for bariatric surgery has been lowered by the primary societies associated with metabolic and bariatric surgery, namely the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity (IFSO) and the American Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Society (ASMBS). Now those recommendations advise approval at a body mass index of 30 for those with the health conditions I mentioned above, and for anyone with a body mass index of 35. Why? Because large studies across states and across nations show that people in this range live longer, healthier lives after they have undergone bariatric surgery. Things like reduced heart trouble, reduced infections, reduced strokes, reduced respiratory complications, and reduced mortality all occur because of the surgical intervention. It might seem strange, but the health improvements of the weight loss that occurs are quite profound. You probably do not have to use too much imagination to think about something like Covid afflicting a friend or loved one who is seriously overweight to imagine why their mortality risk goes down so much after weight-loss surgery. The same thing applies to all kinds of conditions, including car accidents, slip-and-falls, infections, and other health events that we all eventually face. Fighting through those life problems at an unhealthy weight is, well, unhealthy and higher risk. 

The Takeaway

The minimum weight for bariatric surgery has fallen over the years because of the data, especially the improved safety and simplicity of the 30-minute procedure, and the strong reduction in health risks that happen because of the procedure. You or your loved one might qualify today at a weight of 170 pounds – to find out, plug their height, weight into a BMI calculator tool, and see an expert to learn the options available.

In Reno and Sparks, contact the team at Nevada Surgical today to learn more about whether you qualify for bariatric surgery.

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