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Q: How do the new guidelines for bariatric surgery make more patients eligible than ever before?

For the first time in decades, the guidelines for weight-loss surgery have been revamped. With more than 40% of Americans clinically defined as having obesity, the new guidelines are welcome news.

Further driving this change is that weight-loss surgery has become incredibly safe and is proven to reverse or improve many weight-related medical problems.

Also, thanks to minimally invasive procedures, recovery is even more streamlined. Patients routinely go home the next day and can resume normal activities within a few days.

The new guidelines, like the old ones, are based on body mass index (BMI). Previously, a BMI of at least 40, or 35 or more with at least one obesity-related medical condition, was needed to qualify for surgery. The new guidelines recommend anyone with a BMI over 35 should be considered for surgery, regardless of health problems, along with those whose BMI is over 30 if they have an obesity related disease. While these new guidelines are a welcome update, it may be some time before insurance coverage aligns with the updated recommendations.

Bariatric surgery is a healthy option for many people struggling with obesity.

By Katherine Blevins, M.D.