What You Need to Know About Comorbidities & Bariatric Surgery Approval



If you're thinking of getting bariatric surgery, you've probably found some information about comorbidities. But what are they, and how do they affect your eligibility for surgery?

When you need bariatric surgery, you can't necessarily just walk into a clinic and get it done. You need to meet certain requirements to make sure the surgery will be safe and effective.

More than 200,000 people have gotten bariatric surgery each year in recent years. To take control of your weight and become one of them, you'll need to know the requirements you must meet to be a candidate. Keep reading to learn what you should know about comorbidities and bariatric surgery.

What is Bariatric Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a form of treatment for severe obesity.

According to the National Institute of Health, severe obesity means having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. Living with severe obesity can touch every aspect of your life. Your physical health will be affected, and your emotional and mental health may take a toll as well. Even your relationships and quality of life may suffer.

If you're considering bariatric surgery, you've probably tried all kinds of different weight loss treatments through the years, to no avail. You might be trapped in a cycle where weight gain seems to be the only outcome, no matter what you try.

Medical professionals know it's very hard to treat severe obesity with just diet and exercise. That's why many people end up with the decision to try weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery.

The term "bariatric surgery" encompasses any surgical procedure done on the intestines or stomach with the goal of causing weight loss. Many different types of surgery fall into this category. Bypass surgery and gastric sleeve are two of the most common. However, less well-known procedures like biliopancreatic diversion are also types of weight loss surgery.

Why Bariatric Surgery Works

These types of surgery can be highly effective weight loss treatments for people with severe obesity. They work by minimizing how many calories your body can absorb, or by forcing you to reduce your intake of calories.

No matter what kind of bariatric surgery you have, you'll be forced to make better eating choices after the surgery is done. For example, you might need to choose a more nutrition-rich diet so your body can still get the nutrients it needs with the reduced calorie intake.

Bariatric surgery does much more than promote successful weight loss. After these treatments, patients often have improved self-image, improved health, and an improved quality of life.

Comorbidities and Bariatric Surgery

A comorbidity is a disease that's related to an existing disease, or that results from another disease. Morbid obesity is a disease with many comorbidities. It can trigger heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and more.

Most insurance companies require certain comorbidities to be present before they'll cover bariatric surgery. You typically need to have a BMI of 35 or higher and at least two comorbidities before you can get the surgery approved. However, some insurance companies actually require more than two comorbidities to be present.

List of Comorbidities of Obesity

What are some common obesity comorbidities that may help you qualify for bariatric surgery? Let's take a look.

1. Osteoarthritis

This most common form of arthritis tends to affect people with obesity.

When someone has osteoarthritis, the cushion of cartilage between the joints has become worn down. This can cause joint stiffness and pain, and swollen joints, especially after physical activity. This makes it even harder for obese individuals to exercise and lose weight.

2. Sleep Apnea

People with sleep apnea will have pauses in their breathing while they're asleep. To be defined as sleep apnea, the pauses have to last at least 10 seconds, and happen from five to 15 times an hour.

People with this condition might not always remember waking up when their breathing pauses. However, they won't feel well-rested, even after sleeping all night, because their sleep has gotten interrupted so many times.

A doctor might do an overnight test to record your breathing patterns and see if you have sleep apnea. Weight loss surgery often helps resolve this issue.

3. Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure doesn't tend to come with many outward signs and symptoms, but it's often linked to obesity.

A blood pressure test is part of the check for comorbidities to see if you're a candidate for bariatric surgery. Normal blood pressure is considered anything under 120/80. Bariatric surgery often helps people's blood pressure return to normal.

4. High Cholesterol

High cholesterol, like hypertension, doesn't come with any outward symptoms. To find out your cholesterol level, visit your doctor for a blood test.

It's normal to have some cholesterol in the blood, but when the levels get too high, it becomes a health concern. This results in fatty deposits in the blood vessels, which restricts blood flow to the brain and heart.

5. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 is sometimes known as "adult-onset diabetes." This chronic condition changes the way your body metabolizes glucose, or sugar.

The symptoms can include an increase in thirst and urination, more hunger, blurry vision, fatigue, and patches of darkened skin. The disease progresses slowly, so any single symptom is enough to warrant talking to your doctor about the possibility of diabetes.

6. Venous Stasis Disease

"Venous" means veins, and "stasis" means not moving. In this disease, the leg veins stop working properly, and the blood struggles to get back to the heart after it reaches the legs.

The blood will start to pool in the leg veins, since it can't move the way it should. You might notice a swelling in your lower legs, or tiredness and aching. The skin might also become reddish and sensitive.

Getting Ready for Weight Loss Surgery

If you have severe obesity and think you might have some of the comorbidities listed here, it's time to think about bariatric surgery.

Your doctor can help you determine if you're a good candidate, and if you have enough comorbidities. After weight loss surgery, you'll notice significant positive changes to your health and quality of life.

Ready to learn more? Find out about the types of weight loss surgery here.