Are you a candidate for weight loss surgery?

Learn the requirements to see if you qualify to have bariatric surgery.

General guidelines to qualify for weight loss surgery

  • You must have a BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 or more, plus a serious obesity-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea.
  • You must be healthy enough to have surgery.
  • You will be required to have a psychological evaluation.
  • You must have tried to lose weight by other means, such as diet and exercise.

Most importantly, you have to be committed to the long-term process of weight loss. By closely following the post-surgery recommendations, you give yourself the best possible chance to be successful.

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UCHealth: recognized experts in bariatric surgery

UCHealth weight loss surgery experts have performed more than 7,000 procedures—so you can trust our experience to deliver exceptional care. Our caring, compassionate team walks with you through every phase of the weight loss surgery journey so you always know what to expect and where to turn.

Is weight loss surgery right for you?

Do any of these sound like you?

If you have more than one of these conditions, you may qualify for weight-loss surgery.

  • When I look at a chart that shows “normal” weight, I am 100 pounds over what I should be for a person of my age and height.
  • My BMI (body mass index) is over 40.
  • My BMI is over 35 and I have a serious obesity-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea.
  • I have trouble sleeping and/or I wake up gasping for air.
  • People look at me and point or say things about my weight.
  • I find it hard to move around.
  • I don’t fit into furniture that most people do.
  • I can’t drive a car or fit in an airplane seat.
  • I get depressed.
  • I can’t have children.
  • My joints hurt and/or my joints need to be replaced.
  • I can’t breathe well and/or I have asthma.
  • My blood work shows problems with my cholesterol.
  • I have diabetes.
  • I have heartburn and/or reflux.
  • My arms/legs swell and cause pain.
  • I have high blood pressure.
  • I have heart disease.
  • I have kidney disease and/or kidney failure.

Insurance requirements prior to surgery

Insurance often determines what is required of you prior to surgery. We encourage you to contact your insurance company and ask:

  • If your policy covers weight loss surgery.
  • What specific criteria your insurance company requires before authorizing surgery. This varies between insurance companies and plans.

Below are the minimum program requirements you will need to complete prior to surgery.

Requirements vary depending on the location.

  • Regular medically supervised visits with your PCP and/or a registered dietitian.
  • Visits with your surgeon.
  • Passing a preoperative psychological evaluation with a recommendation to proceed with surgery.
  • If you smoke, you must quit smoking at least 3 months before your surgery, or longer depending on the surgical procedure you will be having. You cannot restart smoking after surgery.
  • You may have a variety of preoperative tests or consults with other specialists. Your surgeon will determine what preoperative testing you will need.

Note that these are minimum requirements. You may be asked to complete additional requirements if your insurance requires it or if recommended by your weight loss team.

Preparing for bariatric surgery

If you are deemed a candidate, here are some helpful steps you can take to prepare.

  • Begin reading food labels. Pay special attention to calorie, fat and sugar content.
  • Start a food & activity diary. A food & activity diary will help you track what you are eating and how active you are. We recommend using a food and activity tracking app. Bring your diary with you to your appointments.
  • Remove beverages that contain calories from your diet. This includes soda, juice, flavored coffee and alcohol. Beverages should have less than 5 calories per serving.
  • Wean off of caffeine. If you drink a lot of caffeine, cut back before surgery. You will need to avoid caffeine for 6 weeks after surgery. We strongly recommend that you wean off caffeine before to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
women exercising to lose weight
  • Lower the amount of sugar & simple carbohydrates you eat. Limit candy, cake, cookies, deserts, breads, pastries, pasta, rice and potatoes.
  • Lower the amount of fat you eat. Limit fried foods, fast foods, high fat meats, high fat cheese, chips, butter, margarine, salad dressing and oil.
  • Lower the number of processed foods you eat. Avoid foods that are highly processed. Less processed foods are much healthier for you.
  • Exercise. Your goal should be to work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise every day or 3 hours per week. If you do not currently exercise, start slowly and increase your activity over time.
  • Drink 64 ounces of water every day. Carry a water bottle everywhere you go. Practice sipping very slowly. Avoid drinking fluids 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after eating solid foods.
  • Eat slowly & take dime sized bites. Take one bite every two minutes. Chew your food well. Food should be the consistency of applesauce before you swallow.
  • Evaluate your mental health. Are you an emotional eater? Do you eat when you are bored? Do you use food to cope with stress? If you answered yes, you will be more successful with long-term weight loss if you find new ways to cope before surgery. Consider talking to a mental health professional.
  • Attend weight loss surgery support groups. Studies show that people who participate in weight loss surgery support groups are more successful with long-term weight loss.