Feet standing on scale with measuring tape in foreground; person is considering weight-loss surgery.

A look at weight-loss surgery: Is it right for you?

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Weight loss is a sensitive subject for many of us. Whether we are trying to shed a few pounds or need to lose a significant amount of weight, it is frustrating when we aren’t seeing the results we want.

Bariatric surgery is an option, but how do you know if you are a good candidate for a procedure or not? Manuel Castro, MD, PhD, FACS, bariatric surgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, has five things to consider before you commit to weight-loss surgery.

1. Check your BMI

Your body mass index (BMI) is the primary measurement physicians use to decide whether or not you are a good candidate for weight-loss surgery. An ideal BMI is between 19 and 25. Patients with a BMI of 40 or higher are normally deemed good candidates for weight-loss surgery. If you are curious about what your BMI is, you can try using an online calculator to compute yours.

2. Check your insurance

Insurance coverage and requirements vary by policy, but most insurers require that:

  • Patients are at least 18 years old
  • BMI is equal to or greater than 40 OR
  • BMI equal to or greater than 35 with one qualifying comorbidity such as diabetes, hypertension, or obstructive sleep apnea
  • Previously failed weight-loss attempts

Check with your insurance company to learn if you have coverage for bariatric surgery. If your insurance plan does cover these procedures, contact a bariatric surgeon to determine which surgery is right for you. If your insurance does not cover weight-loss surgery, financing is another option.

3. Check your goals

“It’s important to clarify that this is not simply a cosmetic procedure,” Dr. Castro says. “Weight-loss surgery candidates are more concerned with their health and quality of life.”

Dr. Castro’s patients who follow his instructions are much more likely to see positive results long after their surgeries are over. These patients usually see a 50 to 75 percent decrease in medication usage, and in some cases, their other obesity-related issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure are improved or resolved.

4. Check your attitude

Weight-loss surgery is not for the faint of heart because it requires a life-long commitment to a different lifestyle. You must be mentally prepared and dedicated to your weight-loss journey.

“Surgery isn’t a permanent solution to excess weight; it’s an extra level of treatment,” Dr. Castro says. The most successful patients are the ones who can follow a set of dietary, exercise, and lifestyle guidelines set in place by their physician. It is also important for patients to attend their follow-up appointments to help stay on top of their goals and to properly monitor progress.

5. Check with your physician

Weight-loss surgery can be effective, but it’s not right for everyone. Before making the decision to move forward, loop in all your healthcare providers to go over any potential risks. Then, you can bring that information to your bariatric surgeon to help you determine if weight-loss surgery is the best option to help you achieve your overall health goals.

Learn more about the weight-loss program at Methodist Charlton Medical Center.