The criteria to determine if someone is a reasonable candidate for weight loss surgery was established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1991. At the time the criteria were published weight loss surgery was still considered “radical” and “dangerous” by many in the medical community so the criteria were pretty strict. Much has changed in weight loss surgery since these original criteria were developed, but in general, we still follow the same criteria today. Importantly, almost EVERY insurance company uses these guidelines when writing their policies on coverage for weight loss surgery. It is expected that in the near future the NIH will update their guidelines that are now more than 20 years old!
In general, the criteria to be eligible for weight loss surgery are:
1) Body Mass Index (BMI) >40 or BMI ≥ 35 with significant medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, etc. Calculate your BMI here.
To determine if you meet the requirements for a weight loss surgery procedure, please enter your information in the BMI Calculator below.
2) No untreated medical condition that is causing the weight problem that can be fixed without surgery (I have never seen this happen!).
3) Previous attempts at weight loss without surgery were unsuccessful (failed diets).
4) Basic understanding of how the operation will lead to weight loss and a commitment to following up after the operation.
5) No active alcohol or drug abuse issues.
6) Medical problems are controlled enough that the risk of surgery is reasonable.
As with all “rules”, there are always exceptions. If you don’t meet all of the criteria above, you may still be eligible for weight loss surgery. Dr. Stegemann will be happy to discuss this with you at your initial appointment.