Check your BMI with this easy-to-use calculator.
Patients who are morbidly or severely obese are at increased risk for health problems and tend to have a shortened life span. There is also added potential risk from continued weight increase. The risk of severe obesity is greater than that of its surgical treatments.
Persons eligible for weight loss surgery include the following:
- Persons with a BMI of 40 or over (about 100 pounds or more above ideal body weight).
- Persons with a BMI of 35 or above (at least 80 pounds above ideal body weight) and who have life-threatening obesity related problems such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, etc.
Considering Weight Loss Surgery: About the Process
If you are considering having surgery to treat obesity, the first step is to find a comprehensive program such as the Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery. The staff includes a nurse practitioner and registered dietitian, both experts in post-surgical weight management, who are readily available to patients.
Because the surgery requires significant lifestyle changes, the program includes an in-depth orientation and a rigorous follow-up schedule. "We devote significant resources to pre-operative education and long-term follow-up," Dr. Bessler says. "The payoff is that our patients have fewer post-surgery complications, compared with the national average. It also helps ensure that our patients will have a good transition to their new life."
About 80 percent of Dr. Bessler's patients are women, even though the prevalence of obesity in men and women is about the same. "I think obesity is less acceptable in women than in men," he says. "A 300-pound guy is a football player, whereas a 300-pound woman is seen as an aberration."
The point of entry to the Columbia University Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery is an introductory seminar with a test at the end, to make sure participants understand the diet requirements and lifestyle changes required by each type of surgery. The seminar, which is now available either online or in person, is managed by our nurse practitioner to educate patients about weight loss surgery, the process, and outcomes.
The next step is a one-on-one meeting with our nurse practitioner, followed by a series of medical evaluations. Once patients have been cleared for surgery, they will see either Dr. Bessler or one of his associates.