Am I a Candidate for Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is not suitable for all people who are obese. Everyone will agree that people should try appropriate dieting, exercise and other ways to lose weight before considering surgery.

Is Surgical Weight Loss Right for You?

Weight loss surgery has been most successful for people who meet the criteria listed below. At Vanderbilt, we perform surgery only if you meet the following criteria:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more. If you have other high-risk conditions, a BMI of 35 may qualify. BMI is a simple way to calculate your amount of body fat.
  • You have already tried non-surgical weight loss treatments such as diet, exercise, and behavioral changes.
  • You have no medical or hormonal reason for obesity. Such conditions are rare but require treatment of the underlying medical problem.
  • You must be fully informed about the surgery and have realistic expectations of weight loss and possible complications.
  • You must demonstrate a willingness to accept the risks of surgery.
  • You must demonstrate a willingness to make dramatic lifelong changes in lifestyle, dietary habits, and exercise, and also to commit to medical follow-up.

Definition of Severe Obesity

Clinically severe obesity is a serious medical condition that demands a comprehensive treatment. Severe obesity is often accompanied by high blood pressure, diabetes, degenerative arthritis, increased cancer risk and heart attacks. The death rate of severely obese people in every age group is about ten times higher than those of normal weight. Often, severely obese people cannot move about easily or comfortably, affecting their self-esteem, self-confidence and quality of life.

There are several medically accepted criteria for defining severe obesity:

  • more than 100 lbs. over your ideal body weight, or
  • a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 40, or
  • a BMI of more than 35 and severe negative health effects, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, related to being severely overweight, or
  • inability to achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period of time, even through medically supervised dieting.

BMI measures the relative percentages of fat and muscle mass in the human body, in which weight in pounds is divided by height in inches. The result is used as an index of obesity. Measure your body mass index with our BMI calculator at the bottom of this page.

Calculate Your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Rather than relying only on the bathroom scale to tell you if you're overweight, experts say you should also know your body mass index (BMI). BMI takes into account not just your weight, but also your height to indicate body fat. The goal for most people is a BMI that's over 18 and under 25.
BMI Calculator