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Are you a good candidate
for bariatric surgery?

March 2007

by Natalie Gutierrez

Anatomy prior to surgery

Bariatric surgery is not a one-time visit to the operating room. Following surgery, patients must adhere to a lifelong exercise and strict nutritional program to maintain positive and healthy results.

The NIH has set minimum requirements for recommending bariatric surgery as a treatment option. They are:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or greater with one or more obesity-related health conditions (e.g., diabetes, high blood pressure)

  • 100 pounds or more above ideal body weight or a BMI of 40 or greater

Other qualifying factors may include:
  • History of documented dietary weight loss attempts
  • Lifelong commitment to dietary, exercise, and medical guidelines and follow-up care
  • Psychological evaluation

Together, you and your bariatric surgeon will take steps to determine:
  • If surgery is the right treatment for you
  • Which type of procedure is right for you
  • If you are mentally and emotionally prepared to make lifelong lifestyle changes
  • That you have, or will have, the necessary support system around you

Laparoscopic adjustable band procedure (or "lap band") involves laparoscopically placing an adjustable band around the stomach just below where the esophagus and stomach connect. The band is then adjusted through a port that lies just beneath the skin. Once in place, it separates the stomach into a large section and a small section, and has the effect of making the person feel fuller much more quickly than normal. Food is digested normally but less food is eaten because the patient feels full quicker, resulting in the patient losing weight.

Laparoscopic adjustable band procedure
Laparoscopic gastric bypass

Laparoscopic gastric bypass is the "gold standard" for weight-loss surgery in the United States. Studies show the average weight loss is higher for patients who choose this option as opposed to one simply using a restrictive device (such as a band). During this procedure, after the surgeon makes a small stomach pouch, a "bypass" is created that keeps food from entering parts of the small intestine. When the body canít absorb as many calories or nutrients because they skip the small intestine sections, the patient begins to experience a new pattern of weight loss.


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Updated 12/11/14