Since gastric bypass surgery is a fairly serious surgery, it is generally only considered as a last resort for people who desperately need to lose weight for health reasons but are unable to do so in more conventional ways. Patients must meet stringent criteria to qualify. Most hospitals offering the surgery list several criteria, most of which a patient must meet before being considered eligible for the surgery. The gastric bypass requirements usually take into consideration how overweight the patient is, how long the patient has been overweight, and whether or not the patient may be able to lose weight in other, less drastic, ways. Additionally, it is usually required that a patient have some medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, that is aggravated by obesity and necessitates a dramatic amount of weight to be lost.
Most gastric bypass requirements state that a patient must be morbidly obese to qualify for the surgery. Morbidly obese, in this case, describes people with a body mass index (BMI) of higher than 40 or people who have more than 100 pounds to lose. Some also say that a person is eligible if he or she weighs twice his or her ideal body weight.
Another of the most common gastric bypass requirements states that patients must have been obese for several years. Frequently, five years is listed as the cutoff point. The patient must also have a serious medical condition resulting from his or her obesity that would be lessened or cured with weight loss. This can range from sleep apnea to heart disease to severe depression, and may include many other illnesses as well. Some weight loss centers relax the BMI cutoff point to 35 if the patient has one or more of these serious medical conditions.
Even if a patient has been morbidly obese for several years and has a weight-related health problem, he or she must also demonstrate that previous efforts to lose weight were unsuccessful. During the several months it usually takes to be evaluated for gastric bypass surgery, the patient may be asked by his or her doctor to participate in a formal weight loss program and provide documented evidence that concerted efforts toward a healthy diet and exercise alone are not sufficient to lose weight. Some people, even if they have met all of these gastric bypass requirements, are still not approved for the surgery. This may be due to a medical or psychological problem that would make receiving the surgery too risky.