Surgical Candidacy


General Guidelines
In order to medically qualify for obesity surgery, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have established general guidelines that any clinician should follow. The NIH has established that bariatric (weight loss) surgery is not an option unless you are morbidly obese. Obesity is “morbid” when it reaches the point of significantly increasing the risk of obesity-related health conditions that can cause disability or death.
This typically means that an individual would require a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater. However, an individual may be considered a candidate for bariatric surgery if he or she has a BMI of at least 35 and is suffering from at least 2 co-existing medical problems related to obesity.

Secondary medical conditions that are related to, or a consequence of, a primary condition (in this case, obesity) are called “co-morbid diseases, or co-morbidities. Examples of these are: diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and heart disease to name but a few. Co-morbidities and other health risks associated with obesity are discussed in further detail in the Co-Morbid Diseases section of this website.

Roughly, the NIH standard of BMI 35 with associated co-morbidities equates to about 80-pound weight excess for women, and about 100 pounds excess weight for men. To qualify for bariatric surgery by most health professionals’ standards, an individual must:

  • Have BMI over 40, be at least 100 pounds overweight, or be twice your ideal weight.
  • Have BMI between 35-40 with at least 2 co-existing medical problems related to obesity (see Co-Morbid Diseases)
  • Be able to show a serious past attempt to weight loss
  • Be able to participate in treatment and long –term follow-up

Please note that these are the general guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health, on which all insurance providers are obligated to base their requirements; however, typically these criteria constitute the minimum requirements by insurance companies. Many insurance companies will require additional documentation, medical tests and prolonged health history in order to qualify. Please see the topics within the Insurance section of our website for further explanation. Additionally, you may complete our confidential Patient Information Form, which will allow us to implement a preliminary investigation of your insurance candidacy for surgery.

Super Morbidly Obese Individuals
For patients with a particularly high body mass index (typically 50+) many forms of weight loss surgery are either difficult to perform or present increased risk. As a result, a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (or increasingly a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy) is sometimes performed as the first of a two-part weight loss solution to provide an initial drop in weight which then makes other bariatric follow up possible at a reduced level of risk.

Dr. Nowzaradan will assess you medical candidacy, including your overall health evaluation and determining if any other medical conditions you may have are related to your weight, and if they are considered co-morbid diseases. It is important to have an open, honest and frank discussion with Dr. Nowzaradan’s staff about your physical and emotional health in order to accurately establish your candidacy for bariatric surgery.