Can I Be Too Heavy to Have Weight Loss Surgery?

Is there such thing as being too obese for weight loss surgery? Some morbidly obese people are under the impression that they do not qualify for gastric sleeve, but I am happy to set the record straight. You can be hundreds of pounds overweight and still be a good candidate for gastric sleeve. In fact, I treat many patients who fall into this category at the Endobariatric facility in Mexico.

Weight Requirements for Gastric Sleeve
The main requirement for gastric sleeve surgery is a BMI (body mass index) score of over 30. If you are unsure of your BMI, you can input your height and weight into this CDC calculator to find out. Those who score 30 and over are considered obese. Some people in the 30-40 BMI range can still qualify for gastric sleeve if they have other health issues (like diabetes, sleep apnea or hypertension) that may improve if they lose a significant amount of weight.
While there is a lower limit related to BMI, you may notice that there is not an upper limit. A study published last year in the Journal of the Society of Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgeons found that even patients deemed “super super obese” (with a BMI of 60 or higher) could still safely undergo bariatric surgery and reap the benefits.

Why Some Extremely Obese Patients Do Not Qualify
The reason why some very obese patients are unable to have bariatric surgery is because they have comorbidities that make the surgery riskier. The higher one’s BMI score, the more likely he or she is to have disqualifying health issues — but that is far from a guarantee.
Some bariatric surgeons decide not to treat extremely obese people as a rule. (When they turn away the heaviest people, that creates a false impression that no surgeon can treat them.) However, I prefer to assess every candidate on an individual basis. Your safety is always a priority of mine, and I would never operate on someone who I don’t believe can undergo this surgery safely and then lose significant weight in the months and years to follow.

Lose Weight Ahead of Surgery
If you want to further reduce your risks ahead of gastric sleeve surgery, you may want to begin your weight loss journey now with diet and exercise. In fact, I ask all my patients to commit to a healthy lifestyle before surgery to see what kind of weight comes off naturally. After genuine efforts have failed, that is when gastric sleeve becomes appropriate.

Keep in mind that gastric sleeve is not magic. Patients still must take ownership of their weight loss journey by sticking to a diet and leading a more active lifestyle after their surgery. If you are unwilling to make these changes in your life before and after gastric sleeve, your results will not manifest.

Learn More from a Leading Bariatric Surgeon
If your BMI is over 50, you may still be a great candidate for including gastric sleeve into your weight loss journey. I’m available to answer all your questions and review your candidacy during a virtual consultation. Please call 1-800-381-8115 for an appointment.

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If you want a more personalized experience and you have Instagram and Tik Tok, follow me (Dr. Alvarez) to see my day both in my daily routine and in the operating room, add me! We will have a great time! My username is: gmoalvarez (Instagram) and gmoalvarezofficial (Tik Tok).

“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.