Surgery FAQs

Am I a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?

Weight loss surgery is a very effective tool that helps the body lose weight. However, surgery is not for everyone. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital uses the criteria recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a guideline to determine who is a candidate for surgery.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a term commonly used by physicians to describe body weight that has been adjusted for an individual's height. If you know your height and weight, you can determine your own BMI by using the chart/calculator below.

www.consumer.gov/weightloss/bmi.htm

For adults over 20 years of age, a healthy, normal BMI is 19-24.9, with obesity beginning at a BMI of 30 and morbid obesity at a BMI of 40. Health risks increase as BMI values rise above 25. Medical conditions related to obesity that might make you a candidate for weight loss surgery include: diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, circulatory problems, heart disease, sleep apnea, polycystic ovary syndrome, urinary incontinence, and infertility.

You may be eligible for weight loss surgery:
  • If youre BMI is above 40.
  • If your BMI is above 35 (or if you are more than 80 pounds overweight) and you have two or more of the life threatening, obesity-related conditions listed above.
  • If you have failed non-surgical attempts at weight loss, specifically a combined regimen of diet and exercise.

Which is the Best Type of Surgery for Me?

Surgery has become an acceptable treatment for obesity because it appears to be the only option that can provide long-term, sustainable weight loss. In fact, the number of patients having surgical treatment of obesity has doubled in recent years. There are several surgical options available to those individuals who are candidates for weight loss surgery. Your surgeon should be skilled in these different approaches, and should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type of operation to determine which procedure is best for you.

It is also helpful to have the support of a family member or friend as you are considering weight loss surgery. We encourage you to bring this person or persons with you to your initial consultation with your surgeon. Discussing your thoughts and feelings regarding the different types of surgery with this person may help you to make this decision more comfortably.
 
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Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Weill Medical College of Cornell University