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Nearly 30 percent of American adults over the age of 20 are overweight, making obesity a national health crisis in the United States. Sadly, there is no universal cure for obesity, and the weight loss method that works for one person may not necessarily work for another. Several studies have shown that over 95 percent of overweight patients who attempt more conservative weight loss approaches like behavior modification, diets, drugs, and exercise regain any weight they may lose. The frustration of a failed diet can be devastating to a person's sense of self-worth. Many people who suffer from morbid obesity are now opting for weight loss surgery as a solution. Learn more about who is a candidate for weight loss surgery.

While weight loss surgery can improve patients' overall health and extend their lifespan, bariatric surgeries are very serious procedures that should not be taken lightly. In order to be considered for weight loss surgery, certain conditions must be met. All of the following must apply to a patient before he or she is considered a potential candidate for weight loss surgery:

BMI of 40 or Higher

You must be considered morbidly obese, meaning that you have a BMI (body mass index) of 40 or higher. To be considered morbidly obese, men must be more than 100 pounds overweight, while morbidly obese women must be more than 80 pounds overweight. However, any patient who is more than 80 pounds overweight and has serious obesity-related health issues or life-threatening problems will be considered for weight loss surgery.

BMI of 35 or Higher and an Obesity-Related Health Problem

Potential patients should have a BMI score of at least 35, along with a serious obesity-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, or life-threatening problems like severe sleep apnea.

BMI Scores and Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery options such as gastric bypass surgery and LAP-BAND® surgery now offer obese individuals a more effective way to lose the weight and diminish the threat of weight related health complications. In order to be considered a good candidate for surgery, you must have a BMI score of at least 40 or a BMI score of 35 with an obesity-related condition.

Other Weight Loss Options Have Been Exhausted

The weight loss surgery is a "last-ditch effort". In most cases, bariatric surgery will only be considered for those patients who have completely exhausted other weight loss options. For this reason, obese children and obese teens are rarely candidates for weight loss surgery.

Attitude and Motivation

It is crucial that bariatric surgery candidates understand that the surgery is to be used as a weight loss tool, and they will need to adopt extreme lifestyle changes to be successful in their weight loss endeavors. A patient with a high degree of motivation to solve his or her weight issues will be much more likely to meet the challenges of postoperative dietary requirements and behavioral therapy.


Bariatric surgery procedures such as gastric bypass and LAP-Band® System surgery are safe and effective methods of weight loss. Men and women can lose more than 50 percent of their weight in the two-year period following surgery. This has led many younger and older patients to ask their doctors if they are good candidates for treatment. While bariatric surgery can generally be performed on patients that are 18 to 75 years of age, patients should be aware of the specific concerns associated with their age group.


Unfortunately, childhood obesity rates continue to increase in the United States. Many overweight children and their parents see bariatric surgery as a quick and easy fix that could treat their weight problems. However, most bariatric surgeons will not perform surgery on patients under the age of 18. Doctors recommend that children adopt healthy eating and exercise habits in order to lose weight.


Although many physicians recommend that patients in their teens try healthy dieting and exercising options before undergoing weight loss surgery, more and more teens are undergoing obesity surgery. Because of their youth, teenagers tend to recover from the procedure quickly. In addition, the surgery helps some teenagers adopt the healthy lifestyle habits needed to maintain their slimmed down figures.


Patients that are 18 to 60 years of age are generally in good enough health to undergo weight loss surgery. Bariatric surgery patients should stop smoking in the weeks before and after surgery; halt use of medications, vitamins, and herbs that thin the blood, and prepare to change their eating and exercise habits following surgery.


Patients in their senior years should consult with a qualified surgeon to find out if they are good candidate for bariatric surgery. According to the Mayo Clinic, the risks associated with having weight loss surgery increase significantly for patients 65 and older.

Choosing a Bariatric Surgeon

All bariatric and gastric bypass surgeons are not the same, and you should choose a bariatric surgeon or weight loss clinic that inspires confidence before undergoing a life-changing surgical procedure.

  • Training and Experience: While all bariatric surgeons must be certified, some doctors have more experience and training than others. Reviewing each bariatric surgeons' credentials, educational history, and record of experience is an integral part of choosing the right surgeon. Check your state medical board to make sure your doctor has a license, and make sure that he or she is a member of some trusted medical organizations.
  • Latest Techniques: It is also important to look for those bariatric surgeons who offer the latest bastric banding and gastric bypass techniques, such as LAP-BAND® System, REALIZE® Band, roux-en-y, and mini gastric bypass surgery.
  • Success Rate: It is crucial that bariatric surgeons have a successful record of results, with a low incidence of complications for bariatric surgery. While the success rate of bariatric surgery is high, there are still risks and possible side effects. Choosing an excellent bariatric surgeon or weight loss clinic will allow you to minimize those risks. Ask your surgeon about his or her success rate, and ask to see patient before and after photos and testimonials.
  • Cost: Additionally, it is imperative that the cost of bariatric surgery is not the deciding factor when selecting a bariatric surgeon. If a bariatric surgeon charges less for the procedure, it may be due to a lack of experience and training.
  • Trained Staff: Since bariatrics is about more than just the surgical procedure, it is also important to find a bariatric weight loss clinic that will satisfy your needs. A bariatric treatment center should have a courteous and well-trained nursing staff, anesthesiologist, dietician, and modern surgical facilities. You will be spending a significant amount of time there before and after the surgical procedure, so it helps if you feel comfortable at the facility.

Find a Weight Loss Surgeon

Obesity is a life-threatening and socially debilitating condition that may be remedied with weight loss surgery. If you would like to explore the possibilities of how a bariatric procedure may change your life, use our directory to find a weight loss surgeon in your area.

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