What is Bariatric Surgery?

The term bariatric comes from the Greek word “baros” and loosely translates as “weight”. Bariatric surgery is the practice of surgery that aids in weight reduction. Over the last 75 years there have been various surgical methods that have been used to induce weight loss. A few of the initial procedures have been associated with severe long-term health issues and have been completely abandoned. Other methods failed to demonstrate sustainable weight loss or were likely to end with significant weight regain.

The procedures that are used today are variations of prior procedures. Today, the three most commonly performed procedures have demonstrated significant weight loss, long-term efficacy and an acceptably low complication profile are:

Am I a candidate for bariatric surgery?

The National Institute of Health has set forth guidelines as to which individuals are likely to benefit from bariatric surgery. Large and small insurance carriers, as criteria for coverage and approval, have largely accepted these guidelines:

  • Age 18 years or older
  • BMI > 40
  • BMI between 35-39 with associated medical conditions related to obesity
  • Documentation of physician or professionally supervised weight loss programs has been attempted and has been unsuccessful.

Additional exclusion criteria have also been established and have largely been agreed upon by the majority of practicing bariatric surgeons:

  • Uncontrolled mental illness
  • Active substance abuse
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Active cancer
  • Inability to understand the procedures and the lifestyle changes necessary for success

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