The average woman wouldn’t mind shedding a pound or two, it is all a part of what it is to be a woman, right? We cram our feet into 3 inch heels, spend a good hour on hair and make-up, and go through at least two different ensemble choices before we will even walk out the front door.
Look to your left, and look to your right. Walking out that front door in America means that a third of the people you see standing around you is obese, and that doesn’t even include our slightly slimmer overweight friends. Lump them in, and 64% of the U.S. population is either overweight or obese.
Okay, so maybe we really could use to lose “a pound or two,” but how? Bariatric surgery is not for everyone. So how do you know if weight-loss surgery is right for you?
Is Bariatric Surgery Right for Me?
What you need to understand first and foremost is bariatric surgery is your last choice option. Your physician and your bariatric surgeon (and your health insurance company) are going to want to see that you have tried controlling your weight with both diet and exercise for at least 5 years without success before considering weight-loss surgery.
Bariatric surgery is not the quick fix, easy opt out. Just like proper diet and exercise are lifelong commitments to keep the weight off, so is weight-loss surgery. You will be required to watch what you eat and get active after your weight-loss surgery. This is true no matter which of the bariatric surgeries you choose: gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, gastric banding, or duodenal switch.
Diet before Bariatric Surgery
It is a great idea to investigate and try the many healthy diets out there before your weight-loss surgery. Even if you do not achieve the weight loss results you desire, you are learning the tools you will need to eat properly and healthfully after your bariatric surgery.
Skip the Cabbage Soup diet and other crash diets that strictly limit what you can eat and tend to be nutrient deficient. Instead, stop by Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers and learn how to make nutritious, balanced meals. Many gyms even have a nutritionist or dietician on staff that can help develop a diet plan tailored to your specific health needs and weight loss goals.
Preparing for Bariatric Surgery
Don’t go into your weight-loss surgery unprepared for living life after weight-loss surgery. The bariatric surgery will provide you with an effective tool for weight loss when it is combined with a good bariatric diet and effective exercise routine, as well as a good support network such as your bariatric surgeon’s patient support group, Overeaters Anonymous, workout buddies, and online support forums like HealthCentral.
We all could use a little bit of encouragement from time to time, and there are plenty of days we just feel too tired after work to fix a healthy meal and squeeze in a work out. Have a group of people on Team You, cheering you on for healthy eating and working out alongside you at fitness classes. Most surgeons are going to require you participate in a medically supervised weight loss program before signing off on your bariatric surgery anyway. It is best to start the habit early.
BMI for Bariatric Surgery
Now that you have given it your all with diet and exercise, step back on that scale. You may not like the number you see, most of us don’t, but how high is it? In order to qualify for bariatric surgery, your BMI needs to be greater than 40 (or BMI 35 with comorbidities such as diabetes). In terms of the scale, that is approximately 100 lbs overweight for a male, and 80 lbs for a female. Does this sound like you? Are you over 18 years of age? If so, then keep reading.
Psychological Evaluations for Bariatric Surgery
The next big qualifying step your bariatric surgeon will have you undergo is the bariatric surgery psychological evaluation. Your evaluation is broken down into five core areas:
- Alcohol use disorder test,
- Drug abuse screening test,
- Millon Behavioral Medicine Diagnostic (MBMD),
- Multidimensional Health Locus of Control (MHLC), and
- Questionnaire on weight and eating patterns
In laymen’s terms, your doctor is looking for active psychosis, alcohol or substance abuse, mental health illnesses, Borderline Personality disorder, as well as what type of social/family support you have, and alternative plans for you should you be turned down for bariatric surgery.
Psychological Exclusionor Bariatric Surgery
Certain criteria can exclude you from bariatric surgery, such as active psychosis, multiple suicide attempts in the past 5 years, active alcohol or substance abuse in the past 6 months, Borderline Personality disorder or having a history of non-compliance. Other criteria may delay, but not cancel your surgery, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, severe binge eating disorder, an unstable social environment (homeless, no access to a kitchen, etc.), or low self-motivation.
Remember, you want to be completely honest with all of your doctors. It’s not a “test” to pass, so no cheating. If you do not qualify, the weight-loss surgery may not be safe for you. There may be other options available to you that your doctors will discuss. The greater possibility is that any necessary corrections can be made with the assistance of mental health professionals and a support network.
Which Bariatric Surgery is Right for Me?
Next, we’ll take a closer look at each of these weight loss surgery options.
Up next: Is Gastric Bypass the Right Weight-Loss Surgery for Me?** WinkPlease heart this article to support weight-loss surgery topics on HealthCentral. Thank you!**
You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer for HealthCentral’s Obesity Community. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website MyBariatricLife.org and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl also is writing her first book and working on a second website. Watch her transformational video on Vimeo.