Qualification Guidelines for Bariatric Surgery Have Changed – What You Need to Know

Introduction to New Qualification Guidelines for Bariatric Surgery

Two of the most prominent organizations in weight loss surgery have announced new qualifications for today’s most popular bariatric procedures.

If you suffer from the disease of obesity, this information is sure to interest you.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO) have officially altered the qualification guidelines for bariatric surgery after 30 years.

The ASMBS is the country’s largest group of bariatric surgeons and integrated health professionals. The IFSO represents 72 national medical associations and societies around the world. These two organizations have lowered the entry bar for the life-saving procedures we commonly call weight loss surgery.

A press release that dropped on October 21, 2022, stated, “The 1991 NIH Consensus Statement on Bariatric Surgery served a valuable purpose for a time, but after more than three decades and hundreds of high-quality studies, including randomized clinical trials, it no longer reflects best practices and lacks relevance to today’s modern-day procedures and population of patients.” The President of ASMBS, Teresa LaMasters, MD, made the statement. She added, “It’s time for a change in thinking and practice for the sake of patients. It is long overdue.”

If you carry too much weight and nothing has worked to help you lose weight, you will want to pay attention to how these changes affect you.

New Bariatric Surgery Guidelines from the ASMBS Vs. The Old Guidelines – What Changed?

The disease of obesity has become one of the most significant public health challenges in the world. Obesity is associated with over sixty weight-related illnesses and reduced overall life expectancy. Weight loss surgery can help you become healthier and live longer.

In 1991, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a consensus statement reflecting the assessment of medical knowledge. The statement limited bariatric surgery access to patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.

An exception was made for patients with a BMI of 35 or more as long as one or more obesity comorbidities were present.

The statement made no recommendations for patients who have diabetes. Nor were there any references to the current batch of laparoscopic techniques that improve the safety of patients undergoing metabolic surgery.

The statement also recommended against bariatric surgery for children and adolescents, even with a BMI of 40, because not enough studies had been conducted.

New Acceptance Guidelines

A young boy with a big belly and a pink background.

The new guidelines emphatically state that bariatric surgery is both safe and effective.

The new recommendations include bariatric surgery for individuals with a BMI of 35 or more. No longer do you need to suffer from obesity comorbidities to qualify for bariatric surgery with this level of obesity.

Metabolic surgery can also be considered for people with a BMI of 30 or greater, including children and adolescents.

There are even recommendations for Asian populations with a 25 to 27.5 or greater BMI.

What Do the New Guidelines Mean?

To understand the new guidelines, we should first explain body mass index and how a person’s BMI is calculated.

Your BMI is your weight divided by the square of your height. For instance, if you are 250 pounds and 5’5″, your BMI would be 41.6.

Body mass index is like golf. You always want a low score.

You can use a BMI calculator to determine your body mass index. A score under 18.5 is considered underweight. Doctors would consider a healthy weight a score of 18.5 to 24.9. 25.5 to 29.9 is overweight, and 30.0 and above is obese.

Though BMI determines a person’s candidacy for weight loss surgery, the score does not tell the whole story.

BMI Categories

BMI relies on weight categories that can be predictors of health problems. The score cannot diagnose your level of fatness or overall health.

For instance, a 5’5″ bodybuilder could weigh 250 pounds. And while the individual would technically be considered obese, much of the individual’s weight would be muscle, not fat.

The BMI test is only a preliminary screen to determine your candidacy for weight loss surgery. Bariatric surgeons use several other tests to determine if weight loss surgery suits you. They use blood, medical imaging, and endoscopy tests to determine a person’s candidacy. But BMI is useful for starting the conversation about bariatric surgery and whether it can help you achieve optimal health.

Now that you know more about BMI, you can see how the new guidelines can help more people get the help they need when they find themselves suffering from the disease of obesity. The old guidelines would have turned people away with a BMI of 30, which is the cutoff for obesity, even if one or more obesity comorbidities were present.

The new guidelines make it possible to start the conversation about weight loss surgery at a BMI of 30 (or lower for Asian populations), even without weight-related illnesses.

Do You Qualify for Bariatric Surgery?

Using a BMI calculator, you can determine your eligibility for weight loss surgery. The only way to obtain an official diagnosis is to consult a qualified bariatric surgeon.

During the consultation, you can discuss your weight loss goals and struggles with losing weight thus far. The surgeon will schedule lab tests and other diagnostic examinations to qualify you for bariatric surgery further.

The surgeon will review your insurance company’s requirements for weight loss surgery. Many insurance policies require you to attend three to six months of medically supervised weight loss programs before they will cover a bariatric procedure. Your health insurance company wants to know that you have tried everything to lose weight and that surgery is a last resort.

Once all of your tests are completed, assuming you qualify for bariatric surgery, the bariatric surgeon will schedule the procedure of your choice.

Which Bariatric Surgery is Best?

A woman is pointing to her stomach while wearing a pair of jeans.

You have several choices when it comes to choosing the ideal bariatric procedure. Your surgeon will recommend one based on the state of your health and your weight loss goals.

Bariatric surgeries come in three basic types.

Gastric bypass surgery changes your digestive system the most and offers the most weight loss potential. Considered the gold standard of bariatric procedures, you can lose up to 70% or more of your excess weight with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. During the procedure, your stomach is converted into a small pouch, leaving less room for your food. The smaller stomach pouch is then rerouted to your small intestine, which limits the nutrients and calories your body can absorb.

Gastric sleeve surgery is quickly becoming the most prescribed weight loss procedure worldwide. The surgery comes with a minimal risk of complications and offers long-term weight loss potential of 50% to 60% or more of your excess weight. During the procedure, around 80% of your stomach is removed. The remaining stomach tissue is converted into a banana-shaped sleeve.

The third is known as adjustable gastric banding or Lap-Band. Lap-band procedures used to be commonplace around ten years ago but have fallen out of favor. The procedure was popular because it was reversible, adjustable, and offered significant weight loss. Over time, doctors and patients discovered the procedure’s propensity for causing nasty side effects.

With all three procedures, you eat less and feel less hungry overall. With gastric bypass surgery, your body absorbs fewer nutrients and calories. All three procedures can result in significant weight loss if you practice healthy lifestyle habits such as eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.

What Are the Benefits of Bariatric Surgery?

Most people think of weight loss when they think of bariatric surgery. That’s fair since you do stand to lose considerable weight by undergoing one of the aforementioned metabolic operations.

However, you stand to gain much more by following through with your desire to improve your life with bariatric surgery.

Increased Quality of Life

Studies show that those who suffer from obesity have a diminished quality of life. If you suffer from obesity, you most probably experience some form of psychological distress. You may feel depressed about your current state of health, anxious, and socially isolated.

Losing a significant amount of weight can make you feel more comfortable in your skin. Your confidence will surge, allowing you to get much more out of life.

Improved Mobility and Energy

Then there are the physiological limitations. You probably experience loss of mobility and low energy, both of which keep you from living the optimal life you could be living.

After weight loss surgery, you’ll find that moving your arms and legs becomes easier. Exercise won’t be so much of a burden. And you’ll have more energy to do what you want, including playing with the kids/grandkids, traveling, and going on roller coasters without worrying that you won’t fit on the rides.

No More Stigma

As an obese individual, you may have fallen victim to stigma. Even though the CDC has deemed obesity a disease that has nothing to do with willpower, the general public still has not received the memo. It is still common for people to view obese individuals as lazy, sloppy, and mentally unhealthy. Children, adolescents, and adults may be teased for their condition.

If you received stares and errant comments about your weight before, those will all become a thing of the past when you lose weight after bariatric surgery.

Pay Less in Medical Costs

The obese stand to pay more in medical costs than their normal-weight counterparts. Studies show that men and women suffering from obesity pay over $2,500 extra each year in medical costs due to their poor health.

Though bariatric surgery can come with a hefty price tag, it pays for itself over time when considering how much you would have paid into the healthcare system otherwise.

Become Healthier

As we have mentioned, being obese makes you susceptible to over 60 weight-related ailments. These include type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, asthma, osteoarthritis, etc. Obesity also increases the chances of cancer, stroke, and heart attacks.

Losing even 5% to 10% of your excess weight can help to reduce the effects of many of these ailments. You may find that they resolve entirely. , Some people who undergo weight loss surgery find that their doctors reduce their medications. Some people can stop taking medications for obesity-related ailments entirely with their doctor’s recommendation.

Live Longer

Being obese is associated with early death. By undergoing weight loss surgery, you stand to extend your life considerably.

What are the Risks of Bariatric Surgery?

All major surgeries come with some semblance of risk. Risks associated with bariatric procedures include excessive bleeding, blood clots, infection, breathing problems, leaks in your gastrointestinal system, bowel obstruction, malnutrition, acid reflux, and others.

Your bariatric surgeon will make sure you understand the risks to your health before scheduling you for weight loss surgery. You can reduce the risks of complications by choosing your bariatric surgeon wisely.

Look for a board-certified bariatric specialist with extensive experience and a track record for providing patients with lifelong support along their weight loss journeys.

For example, Doctor Babak Moeinolmolki is a dual-board certified bariatric surgeon providing patients with life-changing bariatric surgery for over two decades.

How Much Does Bariatric Surgery Cost?

A woman's hands holding money on a pink background.

The general cost of bariatric surgery is $12,000 for gastric banding, $9,500 for gastric sleeve, and $15,000 for gastric bypass surgery.

The cost will depend on the location, surgeon’s fees, medical facility fees, anesthesia, the state of your health, and whether health insurance will cover some or all of the fees. You can receive a more accurate and itemized quote by scheduling a consultation with a qualified bariatric surgeon.

Ready to Change (and Extend) Your Life with Weight Loss Surgery?

If you suffer from obesity, by now, you should be excited. The new guidelines for bariatric procedures have opened the door for more people to receive the life-saving benefits of today’s most popular weight loss surgeries.

By undergoing surgery, you can:

  • Improve your quality of life
  • Gain mobility and energy
  • Do away with the obesity stigma
  • Pay less in medical costs
  • Become healthier
  • And live longer

Start now, and you could lose significant amounts of weight before you know it, 50% to 70% of that weight.

Weight loss won’t happen overnight. It took years to put the weight on. But stick with a healthy living plan, and optimal health will find you.

Doctor Babak Moeinolmolki can help if you have tried everything to lose weight but to no avail.

He offers a wide range of surgical and non-surgical weight loss methods.

Doctor Moeinolmolki also provides post-bariatric body contouring surgery, allowing you to improve your aesthetics after losing weight.

For instance, some patients may experience hanging skin if they have lost skin elasticity after many years of being obese.

Doctor Moeinolmolki can remove that skin by providing an arm lift, thigh lifttummy tuck, or belt lipectomy procedure.

You can save time and money by undergoing weight loss surgery and body contouring surgery by the same bariatric professional. You can also improve your health, your aesthetics, and your confidence in record time.

If you want to learn more, there’s one phone call you need to make. Call Healthy Life Bariatrics, home of world-renowned bariatric surgeon Doctor Babak Moeinolmolki, to schedule a consultation at (310)881-8503.

Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
February 27, 2023
Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki
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