New Lap-Band® Rules Profoundly Affect New Jersey Residents
Just a month ago, the FDA approved the use of the Lap-Band® weight loss surgery procedure for patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or over that also suffered from obesity related diseases (comorbidities) such as type II diabetes, high cholesterol high blood pressure and sleep apnea. This loosening of the qualification guidelines for Lap-Band® surgery will have a profound effect on New Jersey residents who are seeking to undergo bariatric surgery in the future. Before this announcement, only patients with BMIs of 40 or more with no comorbidities or BMIs of 35 or more with one or more comorbidities could qualify. A BMI of 30 or over qualifies a person as obese while 40 or over is considered severely obese.
The new regulations have opened up bariatric surgery as a weight loss option for thousands of New Jersey residents who would not have qualified for bariatric surgery under the old guidelines. According to the Centers for Disease Control 23.9% of New Jersey residents had a BMI greater than or equal to 30. As an example, while a typical 5’9” male with comorbidities needed to weight 237 lbs to qualify under the old criteria, they now only need to weigh 203 lbs.
While these guidelines alone do not mean that everyone with a BMI of 30 or over will qualify for bariatric surgery, it does mean that there is now an effective alternative to frustrating diets and ineffective weight loss pills available to a greater number of people. Weight loss surgery patients must understand that Lap-Band® surgery is still major surgery and while it will help patients lose weight, it requires a dedication to a healthier diet and exercise regimen after surgery. “We are very happy to be able to offer our fellow New Jersey residents the option to undergo bariatric surgery however we caution that they should be ready to accept the lifestyle changes that are necessary to be successful after surgery,” says Dr. Muhammad Feteiha, weight loss surgeon at Advanced Surgical Associates, www.advancedweightlossnj.com and Chief of Surgery at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey. “We evaluate patients on a case-by-case basis in order to make sure that they are suitable candidates for surgery and that the surgical risk is outweighed by the benefits of having a bariatric procedure,” he adds.
While the new FDA guidelines allow bariatric surgeons to offer this surgery to a wider group of people, this does not mean that insurance companies and public healthcare options will immediately start to cover them. Private insurers as well as Medicare and Medicaid understand that the cost of obesity is extreme and that by covering weight loss surgery their costs may be reduced in the long-term. However, before coverage for lower BMI patients is approved, insurance companies will spend time evaluating coverage options.
When choosing a bariatric surgeon, New Jersey residents have plenty of options and they should be aware that almost every bariatric practice offers a free weight loss surgery seminar. The seminars allow the prospective patient to learn more about the practice and the risks and benefits of the procedures. Dr. Feteiha recommends that a prospective bariatric surgery patient take the time to look at the multitude of online resources about bariatric surgery as well as attend two or more weight-loss surgery seminars in order to make the final decision as to whether they are ready for bariatric surgery.
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