What is an Acceptable BMI for Weight Loss Surgery?

Christie Auyeung Weight Loss, Weight Loss Surgery Leave a Comment

Weight loss surgery involves making permanent changes to the stomach and digestive system to limit the amount of food one can eat. Ultimately, success depends on the patient’s ability to make long-term lifestyle changes.

Weight loss surgery may sound appealing, but it is a major procedure that comes with associated side effects and health risks. Thus, patients need to meet certain medical guidelines in order to qualify.

So who is a good candidate for weight loss surgery?

In general, there are 3 basic criteria:
  1. Past efforts to lose weight through diet and exercise were unsuccessful
  2. BMI is 40 or higher (extreme obesity)
  3. BMI is between 35-39.9 (obesity), plus having a serious weight-related health problem such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or severe sleep apnea

BMI, short for Body Mass Index, is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. It’s calculated by a person’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared.

It can also be calculated by a person’s weight in pounds divided by their height in inches squared, multiplied by a correction factor.

You can determine your BMI simply by typing in your weight and height into this online BMI calculator.

The FDA considers the following BMI ranges into categories of obesity:

  • 18-24: Normal weight
  • 25-30: Overweight
  • 30-35: Obesity, Class 1
  • 35-40: Severe Obesity, Class 2
  • 40+: Morbid Obesity, Class 3

Typically, insurance plans consider someone eligible for weight loss surgery if their BMI is over 40, or their BMI is over 30 and they have a weight-related health problem.

Beyond these general guidelines, though, health professionals will conduct an additional evaluation of several factors to determine whether a patient is fit for weight loss surgery, including:

  • Nutrition and weight history: Weight trends, diet attempts, eating habits, exercise routine, stress level, time constraints and motivation
  • Medical condition: Medications taken, alcohol consumption, smoking habits
  • Psychological status: Mental health conditions that may contribute to obesity, such as binge-eating disorder, substance abuse, depression and anxiety disorders
  • Age: Risk generally increases with age

For a simple online test to determine if you are ready for weight loss surgery, check out this link.

Healthcare professionals will usually have an in-depth screening process to determine who is a good candidate for weight loss surgery. But the BMI guidelines above are a good starting point.

Got more questions about weight loss surgery? Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our world-class doctors today.

Christie is a UChicago grad currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In her free time, she enjoys tap dancing, learning to windsurf, and trying new foods.