Management of obesity can include lifestyle changes, medications, or surgery. The main treatment for obesity consists of dieting and physical exercise. The most effective treatment for obesity is bariatric surgery. Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is used to treat people who are dangerously obese.

Surgery for severe obesity is associated with long-term weight loss and decreased overall mortality.

This type of surgery is available to treat people with potentially life-threatening obesity when other treatments, such as lifestyle changes, haven’t worked.

Potentially life-threatening obesity is defined as:

  • Having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above
  • Having a BMI of 35 or above and having another serious health condition that could be improved if you lose weight, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure

Adults who have recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may also be considered for an assessment for weight loss surgery if they have a BMI of 30-34.9.

For people who meet the above criteria, weight loss surgery has proved to be effective in significantly and quickly reducing excess body fat.

However, it’s always recommended that you try to lose weight through a healthy, calorie-controlled diet and increased amounts of exercise before you consider weight loss surgery, as surgery carries a risk of complications and requires a significant change in lifestyle afterwards.

Because of these associated risks, most surgeons, would only consider someone for surgery if there was a clinical need, and not for cosmetic reasons.

Weight loss surgery is only recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35-40 and a serious health condition that could be improved if you lose weight, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Weight loss surgery should only be offered if all the following conditions apply:

  • You’ve tried all the appropriate non-surgical methods, such as diet and exercise, but failed to achieve or maintain a beneficial level of weight loss.
  • You’ve been receiving or will receive intensive management from a multidisciplinary team of specialists led by a clinician – getting ready for surgery.
  • You agree to commit to long-term follow-up treatment after surgery at a specialised obesity service.
  • You’re fit and healthy enough to withstand anaesthesia and surgery.

Article by Dr. U.P.Srinivasan
Consultant Surgical Gastroenterologist (Liver Transplant Unit)
Kauvery Hospital