Can You Be Too Heavy for Weight-Loss Surgery?

Medically Reviewed on 5/27/2022

What is weight loss surgery? 

Weight loss surgery is an effective way for people with significant excess weight to improve their health. There is no official upper limit on weight for weight loss surgery candidates.
Weight loss surgery is an effective way for people with significant excess weight to improve their health. There is no official upper limit on weight for weight loss surgery candidates.

Weight loss surgery is an effective way for people with significant excess weight to improve their health. It is a serious surgery, and not everyone is a good candidate for the operation. Certain health conditions make weight loss surgery risky. There are also bodyweight requirements to be considered for the procedure. 

Weight loss surgery, sometimes called bariatric surgery or metabolic surgery, is an operation to change the size and function of organs in your digestive tract. This promotes weight loss by limiting the amount of food you can eat or changing how your body absorbs foods. 

Most people get one of three types of weight loss surgery:

Gastric sleeve

Gastric sleeve surgery, also called a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, involves removing most of the stomach. Your doctor will leave a narrow section that is much smaller than before. After surgery, your stomach cannot hold as much food as it used to. You will need to eat much smaller portions and feel full faster. 

Gastric bypass

Gastric bypass surgery, also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, is a more complicated operation. First, your doctor staples the stomach, sealing off most of it but leaving a small pouch. After that, the surgeon attaches the lower section of your small intestine directly to the small stomach pouch. Finally, the doctor connects the upper part of the small intestine to a new location farther down on the lower part of the small intestine. The result is that your digestive process is more streamlined, and your body will not absorb as many calories during digestion

Gastric band

In a gastric band operation, your doctor fits a ring with an inner inflatable band around your stomach to create a small pouch. The inner band contains a balloon filled with saline solution. After the operation, your doctor will adjust the inner band by injecting or removing the saline solution through a port placed under your skin. The band reduces the size of your stomach, so you eat less and feel full faster. 

Who is eligible for weight loss surgery?

Not everyone who is overweight qualifies for weight loss surgery. The procedures change the way your body processes food, and there are long-term risks involved. Doctors only consider gastric surgery for people for whom obesity is a significant health concern. You must also be healthy enough to undergo surgery. 

There isn’t a specific weight that makes people eligible for weight loss surgery. Doctors use a formula called body mass index to assess whether surgery is appropriate. BMI is a formula that uses height and weight to estimate body fat. Someone with a BMI over 40 is usually considered eligible for weight loss surgery. 

You may be eligible if you have a lower BMI but have other health issues related to your weight. Doctors will consider surgery if you have a BMI of 35 or higher, at least one obesity-related medical condition such as diabetes, and you have had six months of supervised weight-loss attempts

Weight limits for weight loss surgery

There is no official upper limit on weight for weight loss surgery candidates. For people with significant excess weight, surgery may be more complicated. Your doctor can tell you if they feel comfortable offering your weight loss surgery at your current weight.

Another concern is whether medical facilities have appropriate equipment for people above a certain weight. If you are considering surgery, speak with the hospital to be sure they can accommodate you.

Your doctor may suggest that you go on a supervised weight loss program to lose weight before surgery. Reducing your weight will be helpful if you have complicating conditions that make surgery and anesthesia risky. It will also give you a more comprehensive range of hospital and home care equipment options. Once you and your doctor agree that you are ready, you can proceed with the surgery.

Effects of weight loss surgery

Often people who have weight loss surgery have a very positive outcome. Some experts estimate that 90% of people who undergo weight loss surgery lose 50% of excess body weight. They can    keep the weight off over the long term.

Weight loss is rapid in the first months after surgery. You may achieve up to 40% of your weight loss goals in the first six months. One year after surgery, you might have reached 80% of your goals.

In addition to reducing body size, people find that surgery helps resolve other health issues. Surgery and weight loss may improve symptoms of:

Success after weight loss surgery isn’t automatic. Your doctor will give you specific instructions about diet and exercise that will affect your progress. Portion size will be significant because over-filling your stomach can cause it to expand and undo some of the changes from surgery. You may need to take medication and supplements to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition despite the changes to your digestive tract.


What is weight loss surgery? See Answer

Risks of weight loss surgery

Weight loss surgery comes with risk, like any medical procedure. You will need general anesthesia, so talk to your doctor about any issues with anesthetic drugs in the past. You may also face complications from the operation inset, including:

In the months after weight loss surgery, you could develop additional complications. You have many health effects if you don’t get enough nutrients in your diet. Some people develop gallstones due to rapid weight loss:

If you are considering weight loss surgery, talk to your doctor. They can tell you if it’s right for you. 

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 5/27/2022

American Society for Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery: "Benefits of Weight Loss Surgery," "Who is a Candidate for Bariatric Surgery?"

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: "Types of Weight-loss Surgery," "Weight-loss Surgery Benefits," "Weight-loss Surgery Side Effects."

Rush University Medical Center: "The Skinny on Bariatric Surgery."

Surgical Consultants of Northern Virginia: "How Soon Will I Lose Weight After Gastric Bypass?"