February 20, 2014

What Is The Body Mass Index?

The body mass index or BMI is the now ubiquitous measure of excess weight and obesity. By comparing height to weight, a simple calculation reveals a person’s BMI number. This number is often used as a preliminary qualifying criterion for most weight loss surgery procedures. A BMI of 30 or over suggests obesity while a BMI of 40 is the threshold for morbid obesity.

Most practices will pre-qualify a patient by checking their BMI. According to National Institutes of Health and FDA guidelines, patients with a BMI of 30 or over with obesity related diseases (comorbidities) may qualify for certain gastric banding procedures. Those with a BMI of 35 or over with obesity related diseases or 40 or over regardless of comorbidities may qualify for any bariatric procedure including gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. Qualification and suitability for bariatric surgery does not end with the BMI however. In fact, a patient’s health history as well as comprehensive pre-op testing will determine if they are a good fit for the procedure. The goal of any surgical procedure is safety and effectiveness and that is why pre-operative testing is taken so seriously.

It is important to note that the body mass index should be used only as a rough guide to calculate your eligibility for bariatric surgery. It can also be used as a weight loss success benchmark both before and after surgery. Importantly, the BMI is also somewhat inaccurate as it does not take into account several important considerations including gender, body composition (fat vs. muscle) and age. Each of these factors can independently vary the BMI reading.

By and large, the BMI is a good indication of your preliminary eligibility for weight loss surgery. Ultimately, though it is only one of many criteria used to ensure that a bariatric procedure is right for you.

2016, Bariatric Specialists of North Carolina, a part of the EmergeOrtho network
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