Lowering BMI Requirements for Bariatric Surgery Questionable

The FDA and the American Society of Bariatric Physicians are at odds now that the FDA has suggested lowering the recommended BMI or Body Mass Index for those seeking Lap Band bariatric surgery. At the same time, the FDA has denied approval for two additional weight loss medications.

Medical weight loss has been beneficial to many. Bariatric physicians approach medical weight loss plans from the standpoint that regular diet, exercise and monitoring by a medical professional over a period of time should be a primary course of action. Surgical weight loss procedures should be considered only by severely obese patients who have additional challenges and threats to their health.

ASBP standards currently recommend a medical weight loss plan for those with a Body Mass Index between 30 and 35. The new FDA standard that recommends bariatric surgery for patients with a BMI’s of 30 and higher. This subjects patients to the additional risks that accompany surgery including side effects such as pain, vomiting and nutritional deficiencies.

Recent studies by several organizations show that thirty percent of bariatric surgery patients regain their weight, ninety percent suffer from pain and vomiting, and the suicide risk in bariatric surgery patients is five times higher especially in the three years following surgery. The studies do not discredit the advantages of bariatric surgery, nor does the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, but they promote surgery only as a second line solution to obesity disorders.

Therapy following bariatric surgery includes nutritional guidance, psychiatric guidance and medical guidance to deal with lifelong insufficiencies in calcium, thiamine, vitamins and iron. Bariatric physicians know that there is no magic pill and no magic surgery, but under the right guidance and medical weight loss plan, improvements can made in lowering BMI and lowering the risk of metabolic syndrome, while at the same time avoiding the risks of surgery until it becomes necessary to take those risks under consideration.

The American Society of Bariatric Physicians does not support the FDA’s findings to lower the BMI for bariatric surgery patients.

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