Weight loss surgery (WLS) changes the way your digestive system works by closing off parts of the stomach. Making the stomach smaller means that you feel full after eating a small amount of food. Operations that reduce stomach size are known as restrictive operations because they restrict the amount of food the stomach can hold.
Some operations combine restriction with a partial bypass of the small intestine (where food and nutrients are absorbed into the body). By creating a detour around part of the intestine, less food is absorbed. Operations that use this mechanism to enhance weight loss are called malabsorptive operations.
There are a number of different restrictive and malabsorptive operations being done; three are performed here at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center:
Am I Eligible for WLS?
Patients must meet specific criteria, based on guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health, before they will be considered for an evaluation with our team. Most patients who enter our program have a BMI of 40 or greater. Other factors that suggest surgery may be a good option include:
- You are a minimum of 100 pounds overweight.
- You have a BMI over 40.
- You have serious medical conditions related to weight, such as diabetes, sleep apnea or heart disease. (If these are present, surgery may be considered if your BMI is between 35 and 40.)
- You are between 18 and 65 years old (with some exceptions).
- You have a long history of obesity, with many failed formal, structured and/or documented attempts at weight loss.
- You have no current issues with drug or alcohol abuse.
- You have no serious psychiatric illness, such as problems that could impair your ability to follow a program of lifetime health management and follow-up.