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What the New Weight Loss Surgery Guidelines Mean for You

If you considered weight loss surgery in the past, take note: bariatric surgery guidelines have been overhauled for the first time in 30 years, opening the door to countless people – including children – who can now pursue these life-altering procedures.

“The old guidelines were out of step with America’s growing levels of obesity, and they did not reflect the tremendous leaps in surgical innovation in this field,” said Adrian Dobrowolsky, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.S.M.B.S., director of the Bariatric Weight Loss Program at Hoag.

Here is what the new guidelines mean to you:

More inclusive. The new standards include more inclusive criteria for all obese people with special criteria for Asian Americans. The BMI threshold for most patients dropped from 40 to 35, regardless of whether someone has an obesity-related medical condition.

“These new standards reflect a more proactive view of health. We don’t want to wait until people develop hypertension or heart disease,” said Hoag bariatric surgeon Katie Blevins, M.D.


More Proactive. Nearly 42% of American adults contend with obesity, which increases their risk of developing 13 types of cancer, including some breast cancers, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer. Combined, the cancers associated with obesity account for 40% of all cancers diagnosed every year.

By dropping the requirement that patients be sick before pursuing surgery, the new guidelines can help people stave off disease, Dr. Blevins said.


Safer and Faster. Three decades ago, weight loss operations required about a week of hospitalization and several months of recovery. Today’s minimally invasive surgery techniques are safer and can have patients back on their feet in a day.

“With a few tiny incisions, patients can undergo a life-altering procedure and return to their life within a day,” Dr. Dobrowolsky said. “Hoag’s commitment to minimally invasive surgery means patients can get healthier and happier faster and more safely.”

If you’ve thought about weight loss surgery, now may be the perfect time to explore your options: