Gastric bypass surgery requirements: evaluating your eligibility

Gastric bypass surgery requirements are important to see if you are a potential candidate. Your health, age, and BMI are very important to match, if not then there are chances for potential risks. Otherwise, your doctor shall have an alternative solution for you to avoid complications. The decision is taken based on your overall review then your doctor tells you if you’re qualified or not.

You cannot have gastric bypass if you don’t meet the requirements, but you could be another bariatric surgery candidate based on your case. Alternative solutions may also take a turn without even having to undergo surgery, it could be nonsurgical therefore you can save time, and money and be healthier.  

This chapter will cover every detail for you to take a hint before consulting your doctor. 

Gastric Bypass Requirements

What are the requirements for gastric bypass surgery?

Here is what you should know about the requirements for gastric bypass and save yourself from the “Do I qualify for gastric bypass?” question.

  1. You must be at least 18 years old and 65 years at most.
  2. You’re automatically qualified if your BMI is 40+ or a BMI of 35+ with obesity-related diseases such as obstructive sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. 
  3. Efforts for losing weight include dietary and medical interventions such as behavioral counseling or medications. 
  4. The medical records explain your chronic illnesses, allergies, and if you’re currently using medications.
  5. Psychological evaluation is no exception because the bariatric team needs to know if you’re mentally and emotionally ready.
  6. You need to be dedicated to lifestyle changes after your gastric bypass surgery.

Why are there age restrictions for gastric bypass surgery?

There are increased rates of complications if you are less than 18 years old which makes it harder with a not fully-developed body. It is still risky for people above the age of 65 to undergo such surgery.

Your age is the first thing on the list that will affect how your body would respond to the new environment after the surgery. Age plays a role in how your body reacts to anesthesia, and recovery time from a gastric bypass. The surgery is major regardless of age but less invasive when it is performed laparoscopically with small incisions. However, here are the risks of undergoing surgery depending on how old you are:

Potential risks for people undergoing surgery at the age below 18:

Nutritional deficiencies: Teenagers need a high intake of nutrition to fully build a healthy and grown person, gastric bypass limits the calorie intake significantly. That can put you at risk of nutritional complications and vitamin deficiencies.

Delayed growth and development: Rapid weight loss especially right after surgery will cause an abnormality in physical development. 

Higher risk of complications: Adolescents are at a riskier rate of infections and blood clots.

Potential risks for people undergoing surgery above the age of 65:

Increasing risk of complications: Pre-existing heart disease may put the bariatric patient at risk of severe pain.

Weak immune system: Older adults may face very late healing or have an exceptionally long recovery time due to decreased immune functionality.

Tolerating Anesthesia: Anesthesia may affect the brain and cause confusion or memory loss yet it could also be a problem with the lungs and breathing.

Overall, the decision is taken by your healthcare provider to find a proper solution for your case if the gastric bypass was not the one for you.

The significance of BMI

Calculating body mass index (BMI) determines half of the answers to see if bariatric surgery patients qualify for the treatment. Gastric bypass surgery requires a 30+ BMI with obesity-related diseases or a 35+ BMI.

Obesity-related diseases include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Coronary heart diseases
  • Sleep apnea
  • Type 2 diabetes

If you have at least one of these conditions and if your BMI is above 30, you are qualified for gastric bypass surgery.

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Meeting the qualifications for gastric bypass: Advice and recommendations

Here are what you can consider doing if you qualify for gastric bypass to be an extra step beforehand to achieve your desired goals:

  1. Understanding the benefits and risks: Gastric bypass helps lose excess weight and it comes with potential complications such as infection. Therefore you need to follow your doctor’s instructions to pivot any possible complication.
  2. Commitment: As a patient, you need a new lifestyle such as following a diet for bypass, being mobile, and following the instructions your doctor gives you.
  3. Balance and preparation: Change your diet quality and quantity for future lifestyle adaptation. This is absolutely up to you but you can see the benefits it will provide you.
  4. Physical motivation groups: There are clinics where people gather and help each other to become more physically active which makes you feel not alone in the weight loss journey. 

Bariatric surgery can’t be taken lightly, it is a major life-changing experience. You will have to follow instructions as needed to achieve weight loss goals. Moreover, gastric bypass is known as bariatric-metabolic surgery and is best for improving the health of patients with type 2 diabetes.

Are there alternative weight loss options if I don't qualify for gastric bypass?

Yes, In case you’re BMI and other requirements don’t meet the qualification point, your doctor will give you an alternative to gastric bypass surgery for safety issues.

Here are some of the surgical options:

There are other bariatric procedures such as a gastric sleeve procedure, or less invasive surgical procedures like Gastric lap-band surgery. Your doctor determines what a suitable and most effective treatment is for you based on your profile.

Non-surgical solutions are:

Medications: Some medications are used to improve type 2 diabetes and these medications are sometimes used to lose weight. Especially, using Ozempic for weight loss became a trend recently. Its main purpose is to regulate sugar levels and appetite for food. You must definitely consult a professional before considering this option.

Gastric botox: Gastric botox is a relevantly new method to help patients lose weight by injecting small doses of botulinum toxin. This method helps slow down the digestion of the food and increases the time of feeling full.

Gastric balloon: Treatments such as gastric balloon do not require abdominal surgery yet it helps with losing weight by manipulating the stomach to feel full. If your doctor recommends that depending on your situation, that will help you lose excess weight.

The weight loss option might not necessarily have to be done by bariatric surgery if you are not considered a severely obese person. If the solution to the problem was possible with a certain lifestyle that your doctor advises you, that will save you financially and avoid hospital visits.

It is best to consult with your doctor to determine what the best solution is for you whether it’s a surgical solution or a lifestyle solution depending on your case.

Can I still get gastric bypass surgery if I don't meet the requirements?

Legally and health-wise you can’t undergo go gastric bypass procedure because the surgical complications will outweigh the benefits of the operation. You will be dealing with health problems.

Gastric bypass is recommended for diabetic patients that’s why it’s under the category of bariatric-metabolic surgery. If you suffer from morbid obesity with overweight-related issues, it will be a beneficial treatment that overlaps the risks of the surgery and does not face the consequences.


(1) Al-Mutawa A, Anderson AK, Alsabah S, Al-Mutawa M. Nutritional Status of Bariatric Surgery Candidates. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 11;10(1):67. doi: 10.3390/nu10010067. PMID: 29324643; PMCID: PMC5793295. Link

(2) Neff KJ, Olbers T, le Roux CW. Bariatric surgery: the challenges with candidate selection, individualizing treatment and clinical outcomes. BMC Med. 2013 Jan 10;11:8. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-8. PMID: 23302153; PMCID: PMC3570360. Link

(3) Bray GA, Ryan DH. Evidence-based weight loss interventions: Individualized treatment options to maximize patient outcomes. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2021;23 Suppl 1:50-62. doi:10.1111/dom.14200 Link


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