The decision to have weight loss surgery begins with you
“Most of my patients can recall the exact moment they decided to take charge of their weight and their health,” says Ajay Goyal, MD, director of bariatric surgery for Overlook Medical Center. For some, it was a diagnosis of high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes. For others, it was the realization that they could not keep up with their child on the playground. If you’re facing a similar moment and wondering if weight loss surgery is right for you, Dr. Goyal offers the following suggestions.
Do you qualify?
The first consideration is your body mass index (BMI), which is a calculation based on height and weight. If your BMI is 40 or above, you meet the first clinical qualification for bariatric surgery. If your BMI is between 35 and 39.9, you may be a candidate if you also have an obesity-related illness. Other qualifications will be assessed when you meet with your surgeon, and tests will be required to make sure you are healthy enough to undergo surgery. Through Atlantic Health Weight & Wellness Center at Overlook Medical Center, concierge service makes it easy to complete most tests in just one day.
Do some research.
Take the time to learn about different bariatric procedures (gastric sleeve is currently the most popular, but other options exist) and the lifestyle changes that are necessary for success.
Write down your questions.
Maybe you’re wondering about pregnancy after surgery, or how surgery will affect a medical condition. Perhaps you’ve heard that you cannot eat certain foods post-surgery. Your first appointment with your surgeon is the time to ask all of these questions so you can make an informed decision.
Are you committed?
Surgery is only a tool, explains Dr. Goyal. You must also be committed to necessary lifestyle changes and to the follow-up visits associated with any bariatric procedure.
Do you have a support team in place?
Family and friends play a large role in your success, because they are the ones who are by your side when you interact with food. Having the support of your loved ones goes a long way.
More people than ever before are now candidates for weight loss surgery. Dr. Goyal is the primary investigator on two studies that expand the population of bariatric patients. The Low BMI Study departs from the usual criteria by lowering the BMI requirement to 30 to 35 for those who have certain medical conditions. In addition, the Adolescent Bariatric Surgery Study makes surgery accessible to teens 15 years of age and older.
“Weight loss surgery is a lifelong commitment,” adds Dr. Goyal. “But with preparation on your part, support from your loved ones, and education from your surgeon, you will be able to make a decision about whether bariatric surgery is the best choice for your life and your health.”