Bariatric surgery requirements: BMI, age, medical record

Bariatric surgery requirements are the criteria you need to meet to undergo the surgery. Every bariatric surgery has its own specific requirements. Weight loss procedures can be invasive, minimally invasive, or non-invasive. According to the surgery you get, the preliminary conditions will change. These criteria include your Body Mass Index (BMI), age, and health condition. If you do not require for any bariatric surgeries, there are always other options for weight loss. 

Here in the article, we are talking about the basic bariatric surgery requirements you need to fulfill before any kind of weight loss procedure. 

3 main requirements you need to meet

Before undergoing bariatric surgery, there are 3 main bariatric surgery requirements that you must fulfill. These bariatric surgery requirements help ensure that the procedure is safe and beneficial for your weight loss journey:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Age (18-65)
  • Medical history

To be a candidate, you will need to qualify in these three fields. Keep in mind that every bariatric procedure is a major surgical intervention. It carries risks so meeting the criteria helps in minimalizing them. Your BMI, age, and health play a significant role in how well your body will handle both the surgery and the recovery period afterward.

You have to consider your BMI

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. It is used to determine if you are eligible for a specific type of bariatric surgery. Candidates for a gastric balloon typically have a BMI of 30 or higher, with obesity-related comorbidities. Other weight loss surgeries need a BMI of 35 with obesity-related comorbidities or a BMI of 40 and more. Obesity-related health conditions may include diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea.

Use our calculator to find out what your BMI is:

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Your age is a determinant factor

Weight loss surgery has certain age restrictions, with candidates between the ages of 18 and 65. The reason why is that bariatric surgeries can be risky for people who are below 18 and above 65.

Age above 65 can be related to a higher risk of pre-existing health conditions that may affect the surgery. They might also increase the risk of several complications after it. Surgical procedures, including anesthesia, can put immense stress on the body. Older patients may have a higher chance of developing cardiovascular or respiratory conditions.

Teenagers are still in a critical phase of their development. Bariatric surgery can affect nutrient absorption and interfere with the growth process. What’s more, the procedure’s complications are related to anesthesia, infection, and postoperative issues. These potential risks may be higher in young patients due to their growth and development.

More than 1 billion people worldwide are obese and among them 39 million children. World Health Organization is warning that this number is only increasing. To decrease the level of obesity among children, they should avoid food and drinks high in fats, sugar, and salt. Physical activity is equally important. Parents and schools need to help teach adolesces healthy habits from early on.

Your medical history should be favorable

You should have tried all the methods, such as dieting, exercise, and other lifestyle changes before, without any success. Your health status and any potential risks or underlying medical conditions should be taken into consideration. Here are the conditions that are risky for undergoing bariatric surgery:

  1. If you have uncontrolled or untreated cardiovascular disease, you may experience higher surgical risks.
  2. If you have severe kidney disease, it can affect your body’s response to anesthesia and surgical stress.
  3. If you suffer from respiratory conditions, you might face a higher risk of complications during and after surgery due to your lung dysfunction.
  4. If you have severe liver disease, there is a chance of liver failure or cirrhosis.
  5. Bleeding disorders or taking anticoagulants can increase the risk of excessive bleeding during and after surgery.
  6. If you suffer from any autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease, it can potentially cause complications.
  7. If you have any mental health issues, such as severe depression, you need to get professional help before making a life-changing decision. 
  8. If you had previous surgeries in the gastrointestinal tract, it could be the reason for complications.

Psychological evaluation and long-term commitment to a new lifestyle are equally essential. Regarding this commitment, you might be asked to quit smoking for a certain period before your weight loss surgery to reduce the risk of potential complications. Also, your mental health will be examined before the procedure to see if you are mentally ready, ready to make a commitment and have diseases or disorders that would prevent you from undergoing bariatric surgery.

Why being eligible is important for bariatric surgery?

When it comes to your health and legal issues, you can’t undergo a gastric procedure if you don’t meet the criteria. Surgical complications would outweigh the benefits of your operation. As a result, you could be dealing with some serious health problems. These complications include people who are between 18-65 but do not meet the criteria:

Infections: They can occur at the site of the incision or within the abdominal area.

Bleeding: Excessive bleeding may happen during or after surgery.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE): There is a risk of blood clots forming in the legs (DVT) that can travel to your lungs (PE).

Leakage: Potential leaks at the surgical site can lead to the leakage of digestive fluids into the abdominal cavity.

Nutritional deficiencies: Your body may have difficulty absorbing essential nutrients, leading to deficiencies

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): Some bariatric procedures can intensify pre-existing GERD.

If you are not qualified because you are younger than 18 or older than 65, the health problems you may face are:

If you are below 18: There are potential nutritional complications and brain development. Significant weight loss after surgery could also be the reason for physical development problems. Teenagers are also at a higher risk of infections and blood clots.

If you are above 65: As a result of a weaker immune system, there is a risk of very late healing and a long recovery time. Anesthesia might affect the brain and be a reason for memory loss. There is a possibility of cardiovascular complications. Lastly, there might also be a problem with the lungs and breathing after bariatric surgery among older adults.

What do you need to do if you're not qualified?

You might think that you have tried all alternative ways to lose weight and bariatric surgery was your last option. Do not get discouraged! Perhaps there are some methods that you haven’t heard of or haven’t had a chance to try yet. Remember, bariatric surgery is not the only solution, and it is not suitable for everyone.

What’s more, health conditions that may be the reason for your problems with weight loss may include lipedema, hypothyroidism, or polycystic ovary syndrome. Keep in mind you should always consult with your doctor and undergo a detailed examination. Let us give you some tips on different, non-surgical methods of weight loss.

What if I do not qualify because of my BMI?

It’s important to know why you aren’t qualified. Is it because your BMI was lower than the minimum which is 29 or more than the maximum? 

In the case of a lower BMI, a dietician’s help will be suggested. your dietitian can create a personalized eating plan for you. They can help you meet your specific needs and make it easier to follow. They can also give you advice on portion control, making healthy food choices, and planning your meals.Also, your doctor may ask for a blood test from you to understand if there is something preventing you to lose weight.  

If your case is high BMI, you can get the surgery after an effort of weight loss. Your doctor will suggest dietitian help and mobility as much as possible. After lowering your BMI as much as needed, you can get the surgery unless there are no other criteria that you don’t meet. 

NOTE: When eating, it is important to eat slowly and pay attention to hunger cues. It is also crucial to be mindful of portion sizes. To prevent overeating, try to minimize distractions while having your meals. Additionally, remember the significance of a regular exercise routine. Getting enough quality sleep is also important for supporting your health and weight loss goals.

What if I do not qualify because of my age?

Both situations differ one from another when you don’t meet the criteria because of your age. Your healthcare provider will suggest the best treatment plan for you.

If you are too young to undergo bariatric surgery, you can try at least keeping your weight until you are 18. Professional help will be suggested for both diet and physical activity. 

If you are too old to undergo bariatric surgery, your doctor will most probably focus on reducing the symptoms to make you comfortable as much as possible. 

What if I do not qualify because of my medical history?

If you have any medical history that disqualifies you from bariatric surgery, always consult with your doctor before starting any kind of weight loss program. You may also discuss possible drug treatment, which may have a positive effect on your fight against obesity.

Last but not least, losing weight requires patience and self-kindness. It takes time, and there will be both good and bad moments along the way. Start by setting achievable goals and concentrating on positive habits. 

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