Weight Loss Surgery Requirements and Qualifications

When considering weight loss surgery, it's crucial to understand the requirements and qualifications to determine if you are a suitable candidate for these life-changing procedures. In this section, we will provide an overview of the key factors that influence eligibility for bariatric surgery.



Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Although there are several reasons this is not the best way to decide if someone is a candidate for bariatric surgery, it is important because insurance companies rely on this information. Generally, someone’s BMI helps the physicians and providers at CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care decide whether or not patients may qualify for a procedure.

You can calculate your BMI here.

Less than 18.5: Underweight

18.5 – 24.9: Normal weight

25 – 29.9: Overweight 
May qualify for medical weight loss with a BMI of 27 

30 – 34.9: Obese (class 1)
May qualify for weight loss medication
May qualify for weight loss surgery (band, sleeve or bypass) if there are associated medical problems like type 2 diabetes 

35 – 39.9: Obese (class 2)
May qualify for weight loss surgery (gastric band, sleeve, or bypass)
May qualify for weight loss medication

Over 40: Obese (class 3)
May qualify for weight loss surgery - gastric band, sleeve, or bypass

Additional requirements, often tailored to individual circumstances, may also affect your eligibility for weight loss surgery. These include:

Overall Weight

The total weight you need to lose is considered in determining whether you are a suitable candidate. Your physician will assess how much weight loss is necessary for your health and well-being.


This can be a factor in determining eligibility. While there isn't a specific age cutoff, physicians will consider factors such as overall health and the potential benefits of the procedure based on your age.

Lifestyle Requirements

Your current lifestyle, including habits like smoking and alcohol consumption, will be assessed. Adopting a healthier lifestyle before surgery may be required in some cases.

Other Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions may affect your eligibility. These conditions could include heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and more. Your physician will evaluate your specific health status.

It's important to note that not everyone qualifies for bariatric surgery, and that's where non-surgical weight loss options come into play. If you are not eligible for weight loss surgery, don't lose hope. Explore alternative approaches to weight management and a healthier life.

Not eligible for weight loss surgery? Explore your non-surgical weight loss options at CHI Memorial 

Bariatric Surgery Process (Step-by-Step)

Understanding the steps involved in the bariatric surgery process is essential for those considering these procedures. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started on your weight loss journey:

  1. Watch our free online seminar: Begin your journey by attending our free online seminar. This informative session provides an overview of the bariatric surgery process and what to expect.
  2. Fill out our online form or call us: After attending the seminar, you can fill out our online form or call us at (423) 899-1000 to start your evaluation process.
  3. Your first appointment with a physician or provider: This initial consultation is a crucial step where you will meet with a physician who will assess your medical history, perform a physical examination, and discuss your weight loss goals.
  4. Psychological evaluation: Many bariatric programs require a psychological assessment to ensure you are mentally prepared for the journey ahead.
  5. Nutritional counseling: You will work with a registered dietitian to create a personalized diet plan, learn about post-surgery nutrition, and develop healthy eating habits.
  6. Insurance verification: Our team will assist you in understanding your insurance coverage and help you navigate the process. It's important to know what your insurance plan will cover and what expenses you may need to budget for.
  7. Preoperative testing: You will undergo a series of tests to ensure you are medically fit for surgery. These tests may include blood work, imaging, and cardiac evaluations.
  8. Surgical date and procedure: Once you've completed all the necessary steps, your surgical date will be scheduled. The type of bariatric procedure will be determined based on your specific needs and goals.
  9. Postoperative care: After surgery, you'll receive ongoing support and follow-up care to help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  10. Maintenance phase and healthy lifestyle: Post-surgery, you will work on maintaining your weight loss through ongoing support, healthy eating, and regular exercise.

Learn more about our weight management program

Insurance Information

Understanding insurance coverage for bariatric surgery is crucial before embarking on this journey. It's important to note that insurance policies vary, and not all procedures may be covered. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Insurance coverage: Contact your insurance provider to learn about your specific coverage and what bariatric procedures are included in your plan.
  • Pre-authorization: Many insurance companies require pre-authorization, so it's essential to follow the necessary steps for approval.
  • Out-of-pocket costs: Be prepared for potential out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles, co-pays, and any non-covered services.
  • Financial counseling: We offer financial counseling to help you understand the costs and create a plan for managing expenses.

Before beginning the bariatric surgery process, make sure to thoroughly review your insurance policy and consult with our team to ensure a clear understanding of your financial responsibilities.

If you find that you are not eligible for weight loss surgery or have questions about non-surgical weight loss options, please explore the alternatives available at CHI Memorial to help you achieve your weight loss and health goals.

Not eligible for weight loss surgery? Explore your non-surgical weight loss options at CHI Memorial

Learn more about our weight management program

CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care

CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care

7405 Shallowford Road Suite 160
Chattanooga, TN 37421
(423) 899-1000

Office Hours:
Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Office Location