Bariatrics: When to Consider Weight-Loss Surgery

If you’re one of the many people who has already tried every diet and exercise plan imaginable to try to lose weight, but nothing has worked long-term, it may be time to consider weight-loss surgery. Sometimes, in spite of our diligent efforts, we may not be able to achieve long-term results by ourselves. In cases of severe obesity, bariatric surgery can serve as a tool toward achieving significant, long-term weight loss.

First, eligibility guidelines for surgery must be considered. Bariatric surgery involves a major life change; therefore, several factors are considered when determining eligibility, including:

  • A body mass index (BMI) of (a) at least 40, or (b) a BMI of 35 with 2 comorbidities (serious obesity-related diseases such as sleep apnea, diabetes and hypertension).
  • No severe psychological or medical conditions that would make surgery a high risk.
  • No drug or alcohol dependency, unless involved in a recognized treatment program with 1 year of sobriety.
  • Being psychologically stable with realistic expectations.
  • Being at least 18 years old.

Individuals who are interested in learning more about weight-loss surgery and getting started in the process are encouraged to attend 1 of Cone Health’s bariatric seminars. These seminars provide information about the risks and benefits of weight-loss surgery, the costs and a pathway to help guide you through the process to make a lifestyle change. These seminars are offered online, as well as in person. To register for either seminar, visit

Once a weight-loss surgery candidate is medically verified, dedicated bariatric program coordinators help guide patients through insurance matters; referring and setting additional medical appointments, such as psychological and nutritional counseling; offering additional preoperative educational classes and holding patient support groups.

Each patient can expect to have a psychological examination, gastrointestinal testing and other lab tests done to make sure they’re ready for surgery. Some patients will also undergo supervised weight loss or testing with other specialists if they have other conditions, such as heart disease. Bariatric surgery can be an effective step toward losing weight and improving your entire well-being. Yet in order to be effective, it requires a full commitment toward a lifestyle change. Incorporating movement is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, whether that’s going to a traditional gym or participating in dance classes. To help patients incorporate movement into their lives after surgery, Cone Health offers the BELT program (Bariatric Exercise & Lifestyle Transformation) for 16 weeks after surgery.

Spokesperson Background:

Dawn Williams-James, MSN, RN-BC, is the bariatric nurse coordinator for Cone Health. Williams-James received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and her Master of Science in nursing from Western Governors University.

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