I have a few questions for those of you who are on the desperation end of the weight loss struggle. Not those of you wanting to lose 10 or 20 pounds, but those of you who need to lose many multiples of 10 or 20 pounds.

Are you:

Between the ages of 18 and 60?

Have you been:

Severely overweight for five years or more?

Unable to lose weight through diet and exercise?

You do not:

Have an illness that has caused you to be overweight?

Drink too much alcohol?

Are you:

Committed to making changes in your diet and lifestyle?

Willing to continue working with and be monitored by your doctor?

I ask these questions, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets requirements for those seeking a bariatric surgical solution to their weight problem.

One of the most important measures of eligibility is your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a calculation based on your height and weight. Your BMI classifies you as either overweight, obese or morbidly obese.

The BMI measurement categorizes weight as:

Healthy: BMI between 19 and 25

Overweight: BMI between 25 and 30

Obese: BMI over 30

Severely (Morbidly) Obese: BMI of 40 or more.

Patients with a BMI of 40 or more, or BMI over 30 with obesity-related health conditions typically qualify for lap-band surgery.

Of all surgical weight loss options available today, laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (lap-band) is the least invasive. It does not require rerouting the intestinal tract (as with gastric bypass) or stapling. The lap-band procedure has a very low rate of complications compared with gastric bypass with similar weight loss results. Among the biggest advantages is, as its name implies, adjustable. Adjustments may be needed frequently, which can be challenging for some patients. Regular follow-up visits are necessary for your safety and success. This is part of the life-long commitment mentioned earlier.

Most insurance companies require patients have a psychological evaluation prior to having bariatric surgery. Patients over 65 require very strong indications for this type of surgery and must also meet stringent Medicare criteria.

The procedure takes less than an hour, and though considered out-patient usually requires an overnight stay at St. Mary's Medical Center. Patients are typically back to normal activities within two weeks. Our surgeons handle both pre-operative and post-operative visits with patients to ensure the procedure is as safe and successful as possible. Weight loss varies among patients, but shedding 35-45 percent of excess body weight is not uncommon.

The latest statistics on obesity in America are bad and getting worse. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Among Americans age 20 and older, 149.3 million are overweight or obese. If current trends continue, total healthcare costs attributable to obesity could reach $861 billion to $957 billion by 2030, which would account for 16 to 18 percent of U.S. health expenditures.

The goal of lap-band surgeryis to help severely overweight people achieve long-term weight loss.More than a half-million patients have undergone the procedure, but its success also depends on the commitment of the patient. We urge those considering gastric band surgery to speak with their doctor and watch our video about the procedure on our website, bariatrickc.com.

To speak with St. Marys Bariatric Navigator, call 816-655-5560.

Adam Kramer, DO, is with St. Mary's Medical Center in Blue Springs.