Is Weight Loss Surgery for 50 Pounds Overweight Necessary? (BMI Rule)

Weight Loss & Diets | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 20 March 2024

An overweight woman is considering weight loss surgery for 50 pounds overweight and has curly black hair, a yellow t-shirt, and black pants while she sits in front of a doctor in a white lab coat who is jotting down notes.

When considering whether or not weight loss surgery is necessary for someone 50 pounds overweight, it’s important to look at their height and weight since the body mass index (BMI) rule suggests that the BMI of an individual is a better indicator if weight loss surgery is needed.1

This is because BMI accounts for various heights and more often than not, surgeon’s and insurance companies will require someone to have a BMI of 30+ as well as have had a fair attempt at dieting and exercising before considering surgery. 

To put it into perspective, a person who is 6″10 in height and 50 lbs overweight has a BMI of 29 (considered “overweight”) and may not qualify for weight loss surgery. While someone who is 5″10 and 50 lbs overweight has a BMI of 32 (considered obese) and thus, are more likely to qualify for weight loss surgery.

The guide below provides an in depth explanation about who weight loss surgery is recommended for, the surgery options available, how to lose weight naturally, and how long it’ll take to lose 50lbs with or without surgery. 

Is Weight Loss Surgery for 50 Pounds Overweight Necessary?

Whether or not weight loss surgery for 50 pounds overweight is needed comes down to a person’s BMI since a BMI of 30-35 is typically required by insurance companies and surgeon’s. 

If someone has a BMI of 30+ then weight loss surgery may be necessary as long as they’ve explored natural methods such as dieting and exercising since that is also a requirement set by many insurance companies and surgeon’s. 

The BMI Rule & Why It’s Much More Accurate

Not only does BMI’s inclusion of both height and weight give a more accurate look at one’s health, but it can be a helpful tool in determining if weight loss–whether through surgery or naturally–is recommended.

By using a BMI calculator, one can enter their height and weight to instantly determine their current BMI. This number is associated with a certain weight status and level of risk to their health, as outlined below.2

BMI Weight Status Level of Health Risk
Less than 18.5 Underweight Low to Moderate
18.5-24.9 Healthy Weight Minimal
25-29.9 Overweight Low to Moderate
30-34.9 Obese High
35-39.9 Severely Obese Very High
40-49.9 Morbidly Obese Extremely High
50 and Above Super Obese Extremely High

As shown, those with a BMI at or above 30 are (at least) at a high risk level; however, even with a high risk BMI, weight loss surgery isn’t always necessary or advised.

There are many things to take into account and to discuss with a doctor or surgeon when considering weight loss surgery, so we’ll go over what makes someone a good candidate and what qualifications must be met.

Do I Qualify for Weight Loss Surgery?

Those wondering “do I qualify for weight loss surgery” are likely curious about what those qualifications are and what criteria must be met prior to surgery approval–if it’s needed.

First, weight loss surgery for slightly overweight is unnecessary and can often be corrected fairly quickly and easily with adjustments to diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes. However, those with a  BMI of over 40 in the “morbidly obese” and “super obese” categories usually qualify and are often covered by insurance (if they have it), as health risks increase exponentially at this weight level.

Those in the 35-39.9 “severely obese” category usually qualify for surgery and coverage if serious weight-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure or heart disease are likely or present.

An overweight man wearing a blue long sleeve polo shirt and denim pants is getting his body measured using a yellow tape measure by a doctor.

Source: FredFroese via Canva.com3

People in the 30-34.9 “obese” range and those with lower BMIs are rarely approved for weight loss surgery or covered by insurance unless extreme health issues are both present and documented.

However, even those with a BMI of 40 or higher are not automatically given the green light for bariatric surgery. Doctors and surgeons usually want to see serious effort to lose weight naturally, as losing excess fat through natural methods is always preferable to undergoing risky surgeries.

In most cases, potential weight loss surgery candidates will be asked to try losing significant weight on their own, if able, to show their commitment to losing weight and to indicate a better chance of long-term success.

Is It Possible To Lose Excess Weight Naturally or Will I Need Weight Loss Surgery To Lose 50 Pounds?

Weight loss surgery for 50 pounds overweight isn’t needed if one is able to gradually lower their weight to a healthy level without any procedure.

Whether losing weight through an operation or through clean eating, portion control, increased physical activity, and developing healthy habits, any amount of excess weight that’s lost can have a major benefit to one’s health.

These benefits can include improved blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels and will greatly decrease the risk of obesity-related chronic disease, heart issues, fatty liver, and likelihood of sleep apnea or type 2 diabetes.4

Not only can you lose weight by eating less and exercising more, but through several other natural methods outlined below.

Natural Weight Loss Methods

One great way to ensure weight loss is to maintain a calorie deficit, meaning that calories consumed are fewer than calories burned.

Though a calorie deficit without exercise can still aid in weight loss, the rate of loss will be expedited if physical exercise is integrated into one’s daily routine since moving one’s body burns far more calories than sitting or resting.

Get creative with your weight loss journey by making it fun or competitive, such as trying the 21 days no junk food challenge, choosing low-calorie menu items at your favorite restaurant, checking out a new fitness class once a week, or discovering what cardio machines burn the most calories.

A blonde woman with grey-colored eyes, wearing a grey t-shirt is drinking water from a clear glass.

Source: mediaphotos via Canva.com5

Other natural weight loss methods include:

  • Avoiding Alcohol
  • Clean Eating
  • Consuming Fiber
  • Drinking Plenty of Water
  • Eating Regular Meals
  • Getting Enough Sleep
  • Improving Overall Well-Being & Mental Health
  • Incorporating Vitamins & Nutrients into Diet
  • Maintaining a Reasonable Caloric Deficit 
  • Moving Your Body Often
  • Passing on Sugary Foods & Artificial Ingredients
  • Raising Your Heart Rate

Weight Loss Surgery Types

Though we’ve covered that weight loss surgery to lose 50 pounds may not be needed or recommended, of course it can be the best or even only option for others–especially those with weight-related life-threatening health issues or mobility restrictions.

The following are some weight loss surgery types with brief descriptions of each, to be used only if diet and exercise have not been effective or if serious health issues make surgery necessary.

  • Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG): An endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty is similar to a gastric sleeve in that it drastically reduces the size of the stomach (by up to 70%) by stitching part of the stomach to decrease the size of the usable portion.
  • This serves to help one feel fuller much faster and decrease overeating. An ESG is less invasive that a gastric sleeve and is therefore safer, as the procedure is done by way of the throat rather than via open surgery.
  • Gastric Balloon: A swallowable balloon made of silicone and filled with saline, a gastric balloon is also inserted endoscopically (via the throat) and is safer than other bariatric surgeries. The balloon takes up space in the stomach to restrict the amount of food it can hold.
  • Gastric Bypass: A gastric bypass (or Roux-en-Y) is a major surgery in which part of the stomach is made into a small pouch, which is then connected directly to the small intestine to bypass the larger part of the stomach and some of the small intestine.
  • The bypass causes fewer calories to be absorbed by the body and less food to fit in the stomach, with the goal of decreasing hunger and amount eaten. This is usually performed via several small incisions throughout the abdomen.
  • Gastric Sleeve: A gastric sleeve–or vertical sleeve gastrectomy–reduces the size of the stomach by even more than an ESG (up to 80% reduction); the result is very similar to that of an ESG, with the main difference being that a gastric sleeve is done laparoscopically (via incisions in the abdomen) instead of endoscopically.
  • Lap Band: Gastric band or lapband before and after results can be underwhelming as this is the least effective and least successful weight loss surgery. A silicone band is placed around part of the stomach to restrict the amount of food that can enter, but the band often slips or deteriorates.
  • Primary Obesity Surgery Endoluminal (POSE): POSE is considered a safe, effective, and minimally invasive procedure done endoscopically to suture parts of the stomach and reduce its size; this promotes feeling fuller sooner and for longer and has promising results.

Potential Risks of Weight Loss Surgery

Although most potential risks of weight loss surgery are fairly minor and can be fully recovered from, there are some possible serious side effects that anyone considering bariatric surgery should be aware of.

Not only are there several potential weight loss surgery side effects, but approximately a third of all bariatric surgery patients end up needing secondary surgeries, interventions, and hospitalizations within 5 years post-op.6

Some weight loss surgery risks include:

  • Blood Clots
  • Bowel Obstruction
  • Diarrhea
  • Dumping Syndrome
  • Hemorrhaging
  • Infections
  • Leakage Around Staples
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Malnutrition
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

How Long Will It Take To Lose 50 Pounds?

How long will it take to lose 50 pounds depends on several factors from how much someone weighs at their starting point and how many calories they consume daily to their frequency and duration of physical exercise, nutrition, and any health conditions they may have.

Whether someone is seeking weight loss surgery for 50 pounds overweight or has a goal to lose those pounds through natural means, it’s normal to be curious how long does it take to get a perfect body. We’ll give an estimated weight loss rate and cover some risks of going overboard.

A close up on a calendar showing several dates, with a tape measure on top of it.

Source: LarisaBozhikova via Canva.com7

Though it’s natural to wonder how to lose weight for summer and to be driven to succeed, it’s important to go at a healthy and reasonable pace to avoid causing further issues down the line.

The fastest someone should strive to lose weight is 1% of one’s total body weight per week until goal weight is achieved–at which point they should shift to maintaining a healthy weight. This equates to 1-2 lbs per week for people of 100-200 lbs. 

Many people motivated about losing weight tend to try to go too hard too soon and attempt an extreme caloric deficit, exercise so much they run their body down, or suffer malnutrition from not getting enough vitamins and nutrients. This can quickly lead to burnout, injury or sickness and is simply unsustainable in the long term.

Additionally, failing to follow a medically safe rate of weight loss such as the 1% guideline can dramatically increase the likelihood of gallstone formation; research suggests exceeding an average of 1.5kg or about 3 lbs per week exponentially multiplies the risk of developing gallstones and other painful or dangerous health concerns.8

Amount of Time After Surgery Approximate Excess Weight Loss 
3 Months 30-40%
6 Months 40-70%
9 Months 70-85%
1 Year 85-90%
18 Months 90-95%
2 Years Up to 100%

Losing excess weight should always be attempted through natural methods if possible before considering weight loss surgery.

Furthermore, any weight loss procedure should be decided based on one’s BMI and weight-related health issues rather than universally recommending weight loss surgery for 50 pounds overweight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Weight Loss Surgery for 50 Pounds Overweight Isn’t a Good Metric To Go By?

There’s no set number that’s the threshold for weight loss surgery, such as requiring weight loss surgery for 40 pounds overweight; instead, it’s more helpful to use one’s BMI to assess their weight category and health risk instead of advising everyone to get weight loss surgery to lose 50 pounds.

Even considering BMI, other lifestyle factors, mobility level, eating habits, and health conditions should be thoroughly assessed and discussed with a surgeon before weight loss surgery is an option.

What Are Some Reasons Not To Have Bariatric Surgery?

Some reasons not to have bariatric surgery include someone having a health condition that could make surgery a high risk, or if the potential patient is unable to lose any weight or maintain some level of weight loss and healthy habits on their own, as this indicates that they may not be committed enough for the surgery’s results to be effective or successful long-term.

Who Is Weight Loss Surgery Recommended For?

Weight loss surgery is most advised for those with a BMI above 40, or sometimes for those in the 30-39.9 range if they have pre-existing weight-related health issues.


1peakSTOCK. Canva. Accessed 25 April 2023. <>

2Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. (2023). Understand Your BMI and Eligibility for Weight-Loss Surgery. UC San Diego Health. Retrieved March 19, 2023, from <>

3FredFroese. Canva. Accessed 25 April 2023. <>

4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 19). Losing Weight. CDC. Retrieved March 19, 2023, from <>

5mediaphotos. Canva. Accessed 25 April 2023. <>

6National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (2020, September). Weight-loss Surgery Side Effects. National Institute of Health. Retrieved March 19, 2023, from <>

7LarisaBozhikova. Canva. Accessed 25 April 2023. <>

8Weinsier, R., Wilson, L., & Lee, J. (1995, February). Medically safe rate of weight loss for the treatment of obesity: a guideline based on risk of gallstone formation. American Journal of Medicine, 98(2), 115-117. <>

About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.