Episode 2: Do I Qualify

June 29, 2022

One of the most Googled questions about Bariatric Surgery is, Do I Qualify. In this episode, Dr. Brown talks through all of the various qualification requirements to help you determine if you do or not.

Today we’re talking about a really important topic for bariatric patients, “do I qualify?” 

That’s a really important question to answer because the reality is that less than one percent of patients who qualify for surgery undergo surgical intervention. The most important thing, first and foremost, is you do not have to weigh six hundred pounds to undergo bariatric surgery. I know six hundred pound life is out there, it’s on TV, but so many more people benefit from bariatric surgery. 

So let’s get right into it. 

Everything we look at focuses on your BMI or body mass index. Your body mass index is a calculation of both your height and your weight. So how do we obtain your BMI? Well, there are a lot of calculators out there; we have a calculator directly on our website mariabrownmd.com, or you can google BMI calculator, which will give you the number. 

Once you have that number, we look at whether or not it is above or below thirty-five. A BMI between 35 and 39.9 qualifies you for bariatric surgery if you also suffer from an obesity-related condition. Obesity-related conditions include:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea with or without a C-Pap mask.
  • Type-2 diabetes with or without insulin dependence.

Or if you have a BMI greater than 40 alone, you do qualify. A small subset of people qualify in the BMI range of thirty to thirty-four point nine; however, you must have severely uncontrolled Type-2 diabetes requiring insulin that is still not being treated adequately. 

Then we take the BMI off the table, and we look at the other qualifications. 

You must be at least eighteen to undergo bariatric surgery in our program. However, some programs throughout the country offer bariatric surgery to pediatric patients. They are highly specialized in supporting those patients; unfortunately, our program does not provide that. 

When you look at our upper limits of age, I have often treated many patients in their seventies for bariatric surgery as each patient is different, and of course, age is simply a number. So everyone is independently evaluated whether or not medically they are appropriate. Additionally, you must not be smoking any tobacco product, including vaping. we also ask that you

stop smoking marijuana within six weeks before surgery and for life after surgery. 

Now when we look at this, the question is, why do we want you to do that? 

Well, it’s not arbitrary. Smoking tobacco can cause significant problems with the connections between your stomach and intestines. But also, on your staple line, it can cause leaks. So it inhibits long-term healing. So that is one of those things that is an absolute must. Smoking marijuana has been linked to increased weight regain after surgery. So that is the reason we asked patients not to use marijuana post-operatively 

Then we look at the other requirements. Patients must go through a program pre-operatively. Your insurance company directs the number and duration of that program. The insurance company requires you to meet with a nutritionist every thirty days once a month for between three and six months, and rarely twelve months. But again, that’s very, very rare. 

During that time, you learn what you will eat after surgery and how you will live your lifestyle after surgery. And that is so important to your long-term success, as studies show that patients who undergo pre-operative programs are more successful in the long run because they’re more prepared. 

During that time frame, we also ask that you meet with an appropriate specialist depending on your other medical conditions. That could mean a cardiologist, a psychologist, or a long doctor. If you need those, we set all those things up for you, including the nutritionist visits.

So once we know that you qualify, we help to take care of the entire program. You do not have to go out and look for those specialists. We connected with them directly. Once all of that is complete, we submit it to insurance and then proceed with the appropriate surgical intervention. 

So I hope that’s answered some questions on do you qualify. 

If you qualify for surgery, we would be more than happy to talk to you. Please check out our website at mariabrownmd.com for any further information I may not have answered in this podcast. Thank you.