Is Bariatric Surgery Right for You?

Approximately 196,000 Americans had bariatric surgery in 2015. Yet, despite technological advances and a low mortality rate (0.1 percent), bariatric surgery should not be seen as a quick fix. In fact, for patients looking to lose a large amount of weight, the procedure is just the beginning. “The success rate relies on the patient’s adaptive lifestyle change,” says Miguel R. Silva, MD, director of the department of surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian/Lawrence Hospital.

In order to qualify for bariatric surgery, “a healthy patient who does not have medical problems” must have a BMI (body mass index) of 40 or greater, says Silva. In addition, “the National Institute of Health requires that all patients considering the surgery receive a psychological evaluation.”

Most insurance plans cover the procedure, which can cost $20,000 to $30,000 and require patients to be on a medically supervised weight-loss program.

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How do you know which type of surgery is right for you? Silva says, “It’s the patient’s choice,” but he does not advise Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass for patients who’ve had multiple abdominal surgeries. Candidates with severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), he says, should not choose a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy or Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding.


The most common bariatric surgical procedures are: 

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass creates a smaller stomach pouch that bypasses part of the small intestine.

Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding places a silicone ring around the stomach to limit food intake.

Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy is a non-reversible procedure that removes 80 percent of the stomach.

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