Weight loss surgery is available for people who meet certain criteria.
You have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI between 32 and 40 and an obesity related condition that might improve if you lost weight (such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure)
You've tried all other weight loss methods, such as dieting and exercise, but have struggled to lose a clinically significant amount of weight or keep it off
You agree to long-term follow-up after surgery – such as making healthy lifestyle changes, attending regular check-ups, regular blood tests and lifelong multivitamins.
There are several types of weight loss surgery. The most common types are:
Gastric band – a band is placed around the stomach, so you don't need to eat as much to feel full. (This type of surgery is rarely used with our patients as the weight lost is not usually enough)
Gastric bypass – the top part of the stomach is joined to the small intestine, so you feel fuller much sooner and don't absorb as many calories from food. This is preferable for patients with poorly controlled metabolic problems such as diabetes, or hypercholesterolaemia.
Sleeve gastrectomy – some of the stomach is removed, so you can't eat as much as you could before and you'll feel full sooner
All of these operations can lead to significant weight loss within a few years, but each has advantages and disadvantages. If you're considering weight loss surgery, you will be advised about the different types available and decide which is best for you.
Weight loss surgery can achieve dramatic weight loss, but it's not a cure for obesity on its own. You'll need to commit to making permanent lifestyle changes after surgery to avoid putting weight back on.
You'll need to:
Change your diet – you'll be on a liquid or soft food diet in the weeks after surgery, but will gradually move onto a normal balanced diet that you need to stay on for life
Exercise regularly – once you've recovered from surgery, you'll be advised to start a regular exercise plan and continue it for life (this can also help to reduce lose skin)
Attend regular follow-up appointments to check how things are going after surgery and get advice or support if you need it.
Women who have weight loss surgery will also usually need to avoid becoming pregnant during the first 12 to 18 months after surgery. Fertility can improve with significant weight loss and therefore contraception is important in preventing un-planned pregnancies.
Bariatric surgery is not undertaken in the public hospital system. The out of pocket cost is between $5000 and $6000 depending on your health fund and the surgery undertaken. If you are uninsured the costs are substantially higher.