Talking to Your Doctor About Bariatric Surgery

When you've made the decision to talk to your doctor about your weight, you need to think about your objectives. Are you planning to discuss non-surgical methods to reduce your weight, or do you want your doctor to assess your suitability for surgical intervention (bariatric surgery)? Rather than a general discussion, you should intend for the appointment to end with an actionable goal.

Your Desire to Lose Weight

You may not have thoroughly thought about your goal beyond the desire to lose weight. Aiming for bariatric surgery is not a decision that should be made lightly, and while you might be a candidate for this type of surgery, it's unlikely to be the first recommendation. There are several other options that may be more suitable to achieve your goals.

Talking About Your Goals

Your doctor will discuss your goals with you, and you should be prepared for some questions about your food intake and level of physical activity. Your doctor may suggest a referral to a nutritionist, as well as regular exercise under the supervision of a qualified trainer. This is the slow but sure route to weight loss, which will also improve your overall physical health. This is often the recommendation for patients who may be overweight but whose weight doesn't necessarily warrant surgery.

Surgery Is Serious

Although you may prefer a more definitive outcome, as in a recommendation for bariatric surgery, you must remember that this is not a quick fix. Any surgery comes with the possibility of complications, and you need to be prepared for the invasive nature of the procedure, along with the requisite recovery time. Gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy are the most common forms of bariatric surgery, and while you can certainly enquire about your suitability, you should be aware that this is not the most appropriate option for everyone.

Your Body Mass Index

In determining your suitability, a classification of your body mass index (BMI) is a good starting point. A healthy BMI is from 18.5 to 24.9. Although your BMI is likely to exceed this index, bariatric surgery is too extreme an option for those who are merely overweight and is aimed at patients whose BMI puts them in the obese category.

Significant Lifestyle Changes

Those whose BMI is extremely high may need to reduce their index to qualify for surgery, as extreme obesity can increase your chance of surgical complications. This is generally achieved by changes to diet and lifestyle, which must be maintained after your surgery as well. Without these significant changes, the results of the surgery will quickly be lost (remember that it's not a quick fix). 

It can be extremely beneficial to discuss your weight loss goals with your doctor, and it might be that surgical intervention is the best way for you to achieve a healthy weight. Always remember that you then have a responsibility to maintain that weight in the years to come since there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss.