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Summary

In the UK, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published eligibility criteria for those considering obesity surgery. However, whilst these criteria are widely quoted, they do not reflect either current scientific evidence or the opinions of experts practicing in this field.

As a broad generalisation, we take three main factors into account when considering whether obesity surgery might be a suitable procedure for you. 

1. You are classified as obese

The widely accepted view is that obesity surgery should be reserved for those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 kg/m2 or above. However, recent data show that many people with a BMI of 30-35 kg/m2 can do well with the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (lap band) and lose much more weight than they would if treated conventionally2,3. In view of these data, we are prepared to consider individuals for obesity surgery if they have a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or greater, especially if they have medical problems associated with their obesity and if it is clear they have genuinely tried other non-surgical treatment options.

(If you are unsure of your BMI, check it at Healthier Weight)

2. Your obesity is causing you problems

It is important that there are problems associated with your weight to which you feel you need help to resolve.  It is not something you should do for anyone else. This may seem obvious, but it is not uncommon to find partners or spouses putting pressure on individuals to have a procedure which the person may not want.  So if you want to go ahead, this has to be for you.

The problems you perceive may be physical (back pain, reflux, fatigue, lack of mobility, hypertension etc), psychological (depression) or social (low self-esteem, social isolation etc) or a combination of all or several of them.  You may also be concerned about the effect your obesity could have on your future health and life expectancy.    

3. You have tried hard to lose weight with conventional treatments

It is important that you have genuinely tried to lose weight using a variety of non-surgical options over a prolonged period of time. In practice, most of our patients have tried numerous diets and weight-loss programmes over many years, but have still failed to achieve and maintain any significant weight reduction. Many people have also tried weight loss pills of various kinds, either from their own family doctor or purchased over the Internet (never a wise choice). It is important that you have tried all these options, because it tells us that you are genuinely committed to achieving your weight loss objectives.  Unless you have that level of commitment and purpose, you will not be successful with the surgery.   

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Am I eligible for obesity surgery?
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Obesity surgery and weight loss surgery guide

  • Types of obesity surgery
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