Weight loss surgery is major surgery. Its growing use to treat morbid obesity is the result of three factors:
Our current knowledge of the significant health risks of morbid obesity
The relatively low risk and complications of the procedures versus not having the surgery
The ineffectiveness of current non-surgical approaches to produce sustained weight loss
Surgery should be viewed first and foremost as a method for alleviating debilitating, chronic disease. In most cases, the minimum qualification for consideration as a candidate for the procedure is 100 lbs. above ideal body weight or those with a Body Mass Index of 40 or greater. Occasionally a procedure will be considered for someone with a BMI of 35 or higher if the patient's physician determines that obesity-related health conditions have resulted in a medical need for weight reduction and, in the doctor's opinion, surgery appears to be the only way to accomplish the targeted weight loss. In many cases, patients are required to show proof that their attempts at dietary weight loss have been ineffective before surgery will be approved. More important, however, is the commitment on the part of the patient to required, long-term follow-up care. Most surgeons require patients to demonstrate serious motivation and a clear understanding of the extensive dietary, exercise and medical guidelines that must be followed for the remainder of their lives after having weight loss surgery (see Life After Surgery).