Thinking of weight loss surgery, but not sure if you qualify?

Any operation that you are considering should be carefully thought through and the benefits should always outweigh the risks, things to maybe consider are will my quality of life improve? Will symptoms of disease and risk of disease improve? will my relationships be affected ? how will I cope with a different body shape and relationship with food?

Any form of assessment and discussion that you have with us is really about deciding whether it’s the right option at the right time for you as an individual. Weight loss surgery is not recommended for everyone, we generally find that through discussion with the team it is the individual who decides whether it’s a route that they want to pursue.

The operation in itself is not the cure for the disease of obesity which is lifelong, but it can help you identify and make long term changes and therefore manage your condition.

If you self pay for your surgery then the team adhere to NICE guidelines around criteria for surgery, mainly around your weight and any medical conditions.

Things to think about more generally are whether the timing is right and everything is in place to enable you to achieve a safe, healthy and sustainable weight loss as possible:

Some of the things that we will discuss with you are:

1. Your BMI

Bariatric surgery is only recommended if your weight is having a severe impact on your health this is usually measured using BMI (Body Mass Indicator). This uses height and weight to produce a figure. BMI above 30 has a significant effect on health. . The Nice guidelines are that weight loss surgery would be advised if you have:

- a BMI of 40 or more

- a BMI between 35 to 40 and a health problem that could be improved if you lost weight. For example, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, severe problems with your mobility, sleep apnoea (difficulties with breathing whilst asleep).

At The Bariatric Group we take peoples individual circumstances into account, your BMI is very much a guide and one measure of how weight impacts on your health. We therefore ask a lot of questions, this is in no way meant to be ‘a test’ we are just trying to build up a picture of you as an individual this can then direct us in discussing with you, either the type of surgery that will be the most appropriate or indeed whether weight loss surgery is right for you at the moment.

To find out what your BMI score is, please use our BMI calculator.

2. Your understanding

In order to work with any tool efficiently it is always good to know how it works. Then you work with its strengths and are aware of the things that it isn’t necessarily helpful with. We endeavour to explain as much as possible regarding the mode of action of the particular surgery that you are having. We want you to achieve healthy long term weight loss as much as you do! You should know about and understand your options including their benefits and risks. There are many websites and groups that can help with understanding what happens with living with the gastric band, bypass and sleeve on a daily basis. We encourage you to do as much research as possible and of course question us! We don’t know all the answers but probably know someone who does, we also have a huge amount of experience within the team.

2. Your weight loss attempts

We do ask about previous weight loss, we would always recommend surgery only after you have tried other options to lose weight. It should not be the first weight loss intervention that an individual has tried. In fact people who are successful at losing and maintaining their weight loss after surgery are often those who have lost weight previously following lifestyle changes.

3. Your motivation

Mind set and motivation are as important as the actual surgery. You have to be in a reasonably settled place in your life and therefore able to make the changes necessary. Also being able to spend some time thinking about and looking after yourself, eating mindfully takes some practice and self-care. We ask that you commit to a long-term healthy, active lifestyle after surgery In order to get the full benefits you will need to make changes to your eating habits and your exercise routine. Within this having support that you need is important from family members, friends, your GP, work colleagues is also key.

4. Your fitness for surgery

Our surgeons and anaesthetists are very cautious when assessing risk for potential bariatric surgery; we are all keen to ensure that there are no adverse outcomes. They will make sure that you are as medically fit as possible, for example blood pressure is as controlled as it can be, the same with diabetes or asthma. You also need to be fit enough to cope with recovering from surgery.

6. Your physical health

Weight loss surgery may not be recommended if you have a serious illness that would not be improved after the operation, such as advanced cancer or liver disease.

Also if you have had surgery or are suffering from an ongoing disease of your digestive tract then it may mean surgery isn’t possible, this would be decided after a discussion with the surgical team.

7. Your mental health

Sometimes the success of surgery in the long term is ensuring that it is the right time for the intervention. It may be the surgery is absolutely the right thing but you need some help coping with the change. It could be it isn’t the right thing at the present time, this could be if a mental health condition or other underlying factor means you would be unable to commit to long-term follow-up and lifestyle changes. Examples include:

a) schizophrenia for which you aren’t seeking treatment

b) actively abusing alcohol or drugs

c) a previous history of not complying with medical recommendations about your care

Summary

There are some criteria that are necessary to meet in order for the surgeons to consider weight loss surgery as an option , relating to BMI and medical fitness. In order for weight loss surgery to be successful in the long term, that is cause more good than harm, there is a need for you to make enormous change in your diet and lifestyle and to be ready for that. In reality we find that as long as people have done as much research as possible about the reality of day to day living with either a band, bypass or sleeve and are prepared for the change with a positive mind-set then most problems can be overcome.

*Disclaimer: Please note that weight loss surgery results and benefits are unique to each individual and in such The Bariatric Group cannot guarantee specific weight loss goals as results for each surgery can vary. If you have any questions or would like to know more about weight loss surgery please contact our expert team.