Am I a Candidate for Weight Loss Surgery?

If you’re severely overweight and haven’t been able to lose weight with other methods, surgery could be the best and safest option for long-term weight loss.

Our expert team at UC San Diego Health's Bariatric and Metabolic Institute does a comprehensive evaluation to help you determine if you are a candidate for bariatric surgery. We offer weight loss procedures for adults and teenagers.

Obesity and BMI

The primary goal of bariatric surgery is to treat obesity, a disease involving excessive body fat. Many health problems associated with obesity, including diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, depression and osteoarthritis, can be resolved after weight loss surgery.

Body mass index (BMI) is a way to figure out your weight category using the ratio of your height to your weight. BMI is one of the factors used to measure obesity and the risk for disease. We use additional methods to determine your health status and create a treatment plan specifically tailored to your needs.

How to Calculate BMI 

Navigating Your Experience

Our bariatric program’s multidisciplinary team understands the emotional impact of your diagnosis and treatment and will assist you as you navigate this process. We will guide you from your first interaction with doctors and registered dieticians through your recovery.

Our patient navigator can answer questions, address your concerns and offer support as you prepare for surgery. The navigator will also provide an informational webinar to help you understand our services and know what to expect during your bariatric surgical journey with us.

Criteria for Adults

Bariatric surgery may be right for you if your BMI is over 30 and you meet these criteria.

Learn More About BMI for Adults

When Weight-loss Surgery May Not Be Suitable

Bariatric surgery may not be right for you if:

  • You have severe heart or lung disease or another disease or condition that makes you a poor candidate for surgery.
  • You’re pregnant.
  • You’re addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Criteria for Teens

We understand that being severely overweight can tremendously impact an adolescent’s life — now and throughout adulthood. We address the medical, nutritional, emotional and social needs of adolescents who are candidates for weight loss surgery. Together with their family, we recommend the best medical option for each patient.

Our multidisciplinary team at UC San Diego Health's Bariatric and Metabolic Institute works closely with specialists at the Weight and Wellness Center at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. Our program can reverse these life-altering health conditions and help your adolescent get started on the path to lifelong health.

Your adolescent undergoes a complete evaluation by our team before we decide if weight loss surgery is the best option. Your child has to be willing to follow all recommendations and requirements of the weight loss surgery program.

Typically, weight loss surgery is considered only if your adolescent:

  • Has a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or greater with obesity-related health conditions or a BMI of 40 or greater without significant obesity-related health conditions (learn more about adolescent BMI)
  • Has been unable to reach a healthy weight through other diet and exercise programs

Our expert team offers the following surgical weight-loss options for adolescents ages 14 to 18:

What if I'm not Eligible for Weight Loss Surgery?

We have other treatments and programs to help you lose weight safely and effectively.

Explore Weight Management Options

Understand Your BMI

Your body mass index (BMI) measures your weight relative to your height. It doesn’t measure body fat directly, but it’s a reliable indicator of how much of your body is fat. The higher your body mass index, the greater your risk of diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea or type 2 diabetes.

The measure can help determine whether your health is at risk because of extra pounds. Your BMI may vary based on your age or ethnicity. BMI is calculated differently for adults and children/teens.

BMI in Adults

BMI is calculated similarly for adult men and women and is based on a mathematical formula that compares height to weight.

The ideal body weight for your height should result in a body mass index between 19 and 24.9. If you have a BMI above 30, you are considered obese and may be a good candidate for weight-loss surgery.

An individual's body weight includes both muscle and fat. As a result, some individuals may have a high BMI but not a high percentage of body fat. Although some people with a BMI in the overweight range (25 to 30) may not have excess body fat, most people with a BMI in the obese range (equal to or greater than 30) will have an increased level of body fat.

How to Calculate BMI in Adults

BMI in Adolescents

BMI is the ratio of your child's height to weight. The weight status for children is determined using an age- and sex-specific percentile for BMI rather than the BMI categories used for adults because children's body composition varies as they age and varies between boys and girls.

Generally, weight-loss surgery is considered only if your adolescent:

  • Has a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or greater with obesity-related health conditions or a BMI of 40 or greater without significant obesity-related health conditions
  • Has been unable to lose weight through other diet and exercise programs

How to Calculate BMI in Teens


A Center of Excellence

Our Bariatric and Metabolic Institute is a fully accredited bariatric surgery center in the American College of Surgeons Bariatric Surgery Center Network (ACS BSCN), meeting the highest standards for patient safety and quality. This designation means you get safe, effective and high-quality weight loss surgeries and care at UC San Diego Health.