How to Know if Bariatric Surgery is Right for You

Lifestyles that include a healthy diet and routine exercise are common practices for many people with a desire to lose weight. For patients struggling with obesity, though, these steps are often not enough to keep their weight at a healthy level. When diet and exercise alone aren’t enough, a bariatric surgery procedure offers an alternative solution.

“It is a disease when it becomes that severe,” said Dr. John Webb, director of the bariatric program at CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs. “It’s a problem. It’s altered physiology. Your body is not working right.”

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Available in the form of a vertical sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass, bariatric surgery is an operation that assists people in the process of losing weight. It’s a comprehensive process that restricts the amount of food a patient can eat.

“This surgery gives patients a chance to live their life again,” Dr. Webb said. “People want to be able to play with their children or grandchildren. They’re tired of spending money on chronic medical conditions, which cannot be cured and are simply robbing them of their health, energy and ability to live their life.”

While the surgery does provide a solution to lose excess weight, Dr. Webb is also quick to point out that it’s not a cure. At CHI St. Vincent, the program also includes instruction and education about what to eat and how much to eat as part of a healthy diet.

“This operation is the reset button,” he said. “It gives you the opportunity to get thin again, but you have to keep yourself thin. That’s what our program focuses on.”

When Should Someone Seek Bariatric Surgery?

For patients considering bariatric surgery, there’s no specific number on the scale to be aware of, but body mass index (BMI) can help determine if the bariatric surgery program is right for you. BMI is a value derived from a person’s height and weight.

Patients with a BMI greater than 35 and a comorbid condition such as obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension or diabetes qualify for weight reduction surgery under most insurance providers. Those with a BMI greater than 40 often qualify even without any comorbidities.

“We don’t follow just a set number for weight, because everybody is different,” said Dr. Webb. “Somebody that’s over six-feet tall is obviously different that’s five-feet tall, so the body mass index is the standardization tool that is used.”

Anger and frustration over the inability to lose weight are common feelings for patients suffering from uncontrolled obesity. However, Dr. Webb advises against making decisions based on emotions and suggests an alternative mindset.

“I would like for people to get to a point that they realize they have a problem and they need help with this problem,” he said. “This is a life-changing event, and to do that you need a lot of help and a lot of assistance. You can’t have good long-term weight loss without that support.”

To learn more and read about our patients’ experience with their weight loss journey, visit: