How do I Know if it’s Time to Consider Bariatric Surgery?

Posted on: 18th Mar, 2022


Does everyone need to wait until they reach “My 600-Lb Life” status before considering bariatric surgery? Clearly not, but what sort of sign does someone need? How do I know if it’s time to consider bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery has become a whole lot safer and simpler in the last two decades, so much so that it is among the safest routine procedures in the world. In fact, in most places, it’s safer than an appendectomy, hysterectomy, or gallbladder removal. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, the most widely performed procedure, takes about 45 minutes and involves small small Band-aids, a routine procedure if ever there was one. But who should have it?

Determining Candidacy for Bariatric Surgery

It’s a simple truth that bariatric surgery would benefit a lot more people than those who are currently considering it. For millions of people, having the procedure would immediately lower their health risks, which means that having the procedures is safer than not having it.

So, let’s start with some of the most obvious situations. Anyone with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 would almost certainly be better off with bariatric surgery than without it. How can we say this? Because mountains of data from around the world, taken over decades, confirm it. Take the Swedish Obese Subjects Study, or the papers in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example. They demonstrate that people live longer and suffer less strokes and other serious health problems when they undergo bariatric surgery versus continuing with medical management. Right there, we are talking about tens of millions of Americans. An example is a 5’9” and 260 pounds (BMI 42) or a woman who is 5’3”and 185 pounds (BMI 43).

So, if your BMI has crept up over 40 and you have tried to lose weight on your own, it is time to consider surgery. The magic of the surgery is that it changes the hormones that regulate metabolism and body weight for the long term. It is not just about cutting calories.

But maybe your weight is stubbornly somewhat high but not up to a BMI of 40. You should be considering bariatric surgery if you are taking blood pressure medicine, using a CPAP machine or just snore a lot and need a sleep study, experience dreadful headaches, are considering a knee or hip replacement, are facing spine surgery, have recurrent hernias, or have been told you now have diabetes. Even the notoriously reluctant health plans, including Medicare, cover bariatric surgery nearly always in all these situations when the BMI is over 35. The data on improved health and lowered risks is overwhelming. A BMI of 35 means 5’9” and 190 pounds or 5’3” and 172 pounds.

Clinical guidelines from across the healthcare spectrum, places like the American Diabetes Association and The American Heart Association, can help guide you. It might seem strange to treat hypertension, type 2 diabetes, or a degenerative spine, hip or knee by trimming off some of the outer stomach tissue. But bariatric surgery is usually the safest and most effective approach.

Ready to learn more? Contact the Sasse Surgical team today, and let’s schedule a consultation to answer all of your questions.

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