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When Should I Consider Bariatric Surgery?

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I often see patients who want to better manage their health and get in better shape healthwise. These patients often ask me, “At what point should I consider bariatric surgery to help with my weight loss?”

Let’s look at the facts to start. Statistics show that over one third of people in the U.S., and in Louisiana, are considered to be obese. Did you know that obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death? This is because obesity leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the medical cost of obesity is $147 billion annually. Obesity surgery has been shown to decrease medical expenses and prolong life.2

Did you know that the American Medical Association considers obesity a disease? This is because obesity is responsible for so many chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea. These conditions in turn can lead to early death due to heart attack, stroke or cancer. In addition, obesity can impact your daily lifestyle and activities.

Surgery is Only the Beginning

Bariatric weight loss surgery is not a cure for obesity; rather, it is a tool to help put the odds in your favor to help you lose weight. You have to do your part and stick to a healthy diet and exercise program. Many people feel that they are “giving up” when they decide to have surgery, but this is not the case. The decision to have surgery is only the beginning.

After bariatric surgery, you must choose to follow dietary guidelines every day and stay active to maintain your weight loss. If the lifestyle changes made to lose weight discontinue, your weight loss will be affected. Remember it is not magic - this is hard work and risks are involved.

However the benefits usually outweigh the risk. Improvement in quality of life, such as traveling, attending sporting events, walking on the beach, playing with children or grandchildren, bending over to tie your shoe and resolution of health related diseases can be driving factors in your weight loss journey.

See the powerful benefits bariatric surgery provides demonstrated in this video.

Determine your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Your body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of the amount of bone, muscle and fat in your body. It is based on calculating your weight and height.

Criteria for Weight Loss Surgery

To be a candidate for any type of weight loss surgery, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have a BMI greater than or equal to 40 or have a BMI 35-39 with a chronic health condition due to obesity or have BMI 30-34 with medically related chronic health condition and are interested in an adjustable band procedure.
  • Complete a required medical and psychological readiness examination.


  1. Ogden CL, Carroll, MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. JAMA 311:806-14;2014
  2. Arterbur DE, Olsen MK, Smith VA, Livingston EH, Van Scovoc L, Yansy WS Jr, Eid G, Weidenbacher H, Maciejewski ML. Association between bariatric surgery and long-term survival. JAMA 313:62-70;2015

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