How Overweight Do You Have To Be For Weight-Loss Surgery?

Posted on: 24th Mar, 2023


People considering weight-loss surgery tend to have lots of questions, and one of them often relates to weight. How overweight do you need to be for weight loss surgery? Guidelines regarding weight-loss surgery continue to lower the body weight required to qualify, which means more people are eligible.

Current BMI Guidelines for Weight Loss Surgery

The newest guidelines generally talk about a body mass index (BMI) of 30. In the old days, most guidelines began mentioning eligibility with a body mass index of 35 for people with obesity-related health conditions, and a BMI of 40 for anyone regardless of health conditions.

To give you an example, a person who is 5 foot 5 and 192 pounds has a body mass index of 32. Most experts look at such decisions with a risk-benefit type of analysis. It’s a version of the same process you might go through when thinking about a loved one, and whether to proceed with any medical treatment that might increase the chances of preserving meaningful years of life for that person in your life. Over the past seven decades, a great deal of research has accumulated to show the negative effects of obesity, and the positive effects of long-term weight loss produced from surgery.

On the surgery side, the positives from losing weight and improving conditions like diabetes must be weighed against the risks of the surgery itself. As the surgery has become less invasive, safer, and simpler, those risks have diminished a great deal. In recent years, metabolic surgery ranks as perhaps the safest of routine procedures performed in hospitals, comparing favorably to such procedures as appendectomy and cesarean section. With the risks and complications falling to exceptionally low percentages with this 45-minute laparoscopy, the calculus about a person’s expected benefit continues to shift more in favor of surgical intervention versus the risk profile of continuing to live year-by-year with excessive weight.

Long-Term Studies on Weight-Loss Surgery

Many long-term studies have compared the two options side-by-side with unambiguous results. For example, the famous Swedish obese subjects study has been running for over 30 years now. In Sweden’s health system, they have been able to track a large number of individuals of similar age, weight, and health status, and compare those who continued in their traditional medical system with non-surgical approaches for weight loss with matched individuals who underwent a surgical procedure. The results started surprising a lot of people in the early years of the study, with a striking divergence on all key health metrics, including survival. Few would have predicted that the surgical patients had higher survival rates, and that the risk reduction produced by the surgical intervention was as profound as it was. Such findings have been echoed by many studies around the world, showing reductions in important things like stroke, heart, attack, diabetes, and even cancer.

Weight-Loss Surgery Safety

Today, most experts in the know about the data and the risks of obesity, as well as those having some familiarity with the safety of sleeve gastrectomy, are increasingly open minded about the surgical option. Someone with a body mass index over 30 might be a reasonable candidate if they are battling obstructive sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure. The same is true for someone with significant health conditions like a severe spinal degenerative change or knees that are going to need replacement, as all of these conditions improve with metabolic surgery.

Those individuals with the BMI over 35 are increasingly likely to have both public and private health insurance in the United States and many countries supporting the weight-loss surgery approach and considering the procedure medically necessary. While the guidelines and insurance criteria are always in flux, the trend has been toward increasing the eligibility for surgery due to the overall safer health profile among those who choose to undergo a procedure versus those who continue with traditional non-surgical treatments, including counseling, diet, exercise, medications, and lifestyle adjustments.

If you’re considering weight-loss surgery, contact the Nevada Surgical team today to learn more about your options and whether you might be a candidate for these procedures.

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