Do I Qualify for Weight Loss Surgery?

When people ask, “Do I qualify for weight loss surgery?” one of the requirements that may seem surprising is a psychological evaluation. There are also physical requirements and the need to commit to making lifestyle changes to be successful.

Meeting with a psychologist is a necessary part of the bariatric surgery process for insurance purposes and to prepare for the changes ahead. Even when change is positive, it’s helpful to have tools to navigate new expectations.

What to Expect When Meeting With a Psychologist

A psychologist is part of the team to help you reach your goals after weight loss surgery. By getting to know you and what’s important to you, he or she can identify characteristics that increase your opportunity for success, such as:

Strengths – Understand what will work for you. For example, a strong motivation to exercise after surgery contributes to your post-surgery plan.

Support – Identify support networks such as a spouse, children, friends or existing group. You may also discover that you want to be part of a new group to support your weight loss journey. Many options are available.

Challenges – Recognize challenges to overcome for reaching goals such as depression, emotional eating triggers or lack of a supportive environment. When you know your challenges ahead of time, you and your team can make a plan in advance regarding how to deal with each one.

Expectations – Know that you will have a different relationship with food going forward. This is a time to talk about what that will be like for you, ask questions and receive support and validation for the changes you’ll experience.

Why You Don’t Need to Worry

Before meeting with the psychologist, you’ll complete questionnaires or personality tests that provide a helpful starting point for the meeting. It’s important to remember that this isn’t a pass/fail test. Very few people abandon bariatric surgery based on a psychological evaluation. And this is not a time to dig up the past or talk about what brought you to this point. The team, including the psychologist, is here to help you move forward with your decision and your life.

Bariatric Surgery Requirements

Physical requirements for bariatric surgery include:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater or more than 100 pounds overweight
  • BMI of 35 or greater with at least one other obesity co-morbidity, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Inability to sustain weight loss for a healthy weight despite numerous attempts

The person who chooses weight loss surgery will have the best results by making a commitment to follow the doctor and program recommendations after surgery. Meeting with the psychologist is an opportunity to get answers to questions, address concerns and talk about ways to navigate the transition to new lifestyle choices.

You may want to consider bringing a close friend or family member with you to the meeting with the psychologist. Another person listening will hear things from a different perspective, and your support system is part of the ongoing plan for success. 

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