When it comes to preventable deaths in our country, obesity is the second-leading cause, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), right behind tobacco use. In fact, roughly 300,000 Americans die each year due to obesity. On average, an obese person can lose 5 to 10 years of life.
While there are different methods for conquering morbid obesity, weight-loss surgery (also called bariatric surgery) is the most effective solution, according to the NIH.
Having surgery is a big decision that requires research to weigh the risks and benefits. So, when is it time to consider weight-loss surgery?
You are morbidly obese. Weight-loss surgery isn’t for people who want to lose “20 or so” pounds. The NIH has outlined the criteria for the ideal bariatric surgery patient:
- A body mass index of 40 or higher, or
- A BMI greater than 35 with a chronic health condition
You can check your BMI with our BMI calculator. In addition to BMI, your surgeon will evaluate your medical history, perform a physical and psychological exam and review tests to ensure you are a safe candidate for surgery.
You’ve tried to lose weight through behavioral changes or medical treatment without success. Most surgeons require that you have attempted to lose weight for at least six months before having surgery. Dieting is successful for only 5% of morbidly obese people and medical treatments can be expensive and sometimes have negative side effects.
You have a weight-related serious health issue, such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol or sleep apnea.
You are committed to a long-term lifestyle change. Bariatric surgery is only a tool for weight loss; a strict diet and exercise regimen must be followed for optimal weight loss.
The Baptist Center for Bariatric Surgery performs the three most common types of bariatric surgery, which include gastric banding, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. Most of the time, bariatric surgery is done in a minimally invasive way, which has shorter recovery times than open procedures. You can expect to spend a day or two in the hospital and it may be one to three weeks before you can return to work.