Health Column: Bariatric surgery: How do I know if it’s right for me?

Dana Bradley

Dana Bradley

So many people say they’ve tried every diet known to man to help them lose weight, but they just can’t seem to lose the extra pounds. Some seem to do better - they can stick to a diet through thick and thin - but the weight still never seems to budge. This is when desperation can settle in.

It’s at this point that surgical weight loss options are considered. Weight loss surgery procedures are tools to help you lose weight quickly and safely, but still over a period of one to two years. If you’re not committed to your new lifestyle - and dietary guidelines - you could find the weight not coming off or even coming back.

That being said, you should only resort to the weight loss surgery option if you are one of the ones who can stick to the diet no matter what and meet certain guidelines surrounding body mass index, overall health and lifestyle, and commitment. So, knowing there is an option, how do you know if you’re a candidate?

First, the body mass index, or BMI, requirements for weight loss surgery have been in place since the 1990s. Your BMI needs to be at least 40, which is the start of BMIs that are considered morbidly obese, or you need to have a body weight of at least 100 pounds over the ideal body weight.

If you have a BMI of 35-39, which is considered severely obese, you also may be considered if you’re suffering from at least one health condition related to obesity including - but not limited to - diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, depression and/or high cholesterol.

Secondly, surgeons look for patients who make healthy choices - avoiding smoking, drinking and the abuse of drugs - specifically. This helps ensure that if you want to undergo weight loss surgery you are capable of experiencing long-term success.

Probably the most important requirement is commitment. All prospective weight loss surgery patients have to be committed to permanent lifestyle changes. You are required to have psychological evaluations. Weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet designed to erase obesity, and it’s important to understand the role that better eating habits and exercise play in the recovery process. The decision to have weight loss surgery should not be taken lightly. You, as the patient, have to be fully committed to each part of the lifelong process.

If you feel you meet the criteria outlined here, carefully consider the potential benefits and responsibilities of surgery. Attend an informational seminar with bariatric surgeons Dr. Mark Colquitt and Dr. Jonathan Ray as your first step. You’re also encouraged to talk to others who have successfully had weight loss surgery at the Saturday, Oct. 4 “Walk With the Docs: The 2008 Walk from Obesity Team Challenge” at the Blount Memorial Wellness Center at Springbrook.

And, in the end, if you decide you’re a candidate for one of the three procedures offered at Blount Memorial, the surgery can be the first step toward a longer and healthier life.

Dana Bradley, herself a former bariatric surfery patient, is a registered nurse and the bariatric coordinator at the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center. She also is a certified bariatric nurse according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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