The criteria for weight loss surgery on the NHS can vary across England. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend that surgery should be provided on the NHS if you meet all of the following criteria:
you have a body mass index (BMI) of 40kg/m2 or more, or a BMI between 35kg/m2 and 40kg/m2 and a health condition such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, Diabetes or High blood pressure, conditions which may improve following weight loss
you have tried several different methods to lose weight, such as dieting and exercise, but have struggled to lose weight or keep it off
you have attended a tier 3 specialist weight management service
you agree to commit to long-term follow-up after surgery – such as making healthy lifestyle changes and attending regular check-ups
Only patients who have met with their GP and found to have a BMI more than 50kg/m2 can be referred directly to the bariatric service for assessment. If accepted, patients must complete six months of assessment, stabilisation and preparation within the service before surgery can be performed. If you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes recently and/or are of a South Asian background, a lower BMI may be considered.
Even if you meet some of these criteria, you are likely to have an extensive screening process to see if you qualify.
Private weight loss surgery
You still must to meet criteria for surgery in the private sector to be considered for bariatric surgery. You may not need a referral from your GP for private treatment, but it's a good idea to speak to them for advice first. There are various procedures available in the private sector which help you manage your weight including gastric balloons, gastric bands, Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric bypass. Each procedure has different qualifying criteria. For example, to be considered for a gastric balloon, you have a BMI of over 27kg/m2. You must have a BMI of over 35kg/m2 with co-morbidities or 40kg/m2 without any co-morbidities to be considered for a Sleeve Gastrectomy. If you are of a South Asian background, a lower BMI may be considered.