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What You Really Want To Know About Weight Loss Surgery

Managing your weight is hard, particularly if you seem to gain kilos easily. It can feel like a never-ending struggle at times. Eventually, you may start to consider weight loss surgery, prompting many questions. So, here are the answers to the questions patients most commonly ask.

Who can get weight loss surgery?

To find out if you qualify for weight loss surgery, start by working out your body mass index or BMI. A BMI calculation takes your weight in kilograms and divides it by your height squared. Thankfully, you don’t need to work that out in your head! You can use our online BMI calculator below.

BMI Calculator

Height
Cms.

Weight
Kgs.

Results

Now you know your BMI, you can determine whether or not you’re eligible for weight loss surgery.

Eligibility for weight loss surgery

BMI over 40

Immediately eligible

BMI over 35

Eligible if you have another condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, heart disease, sleep apnoea or osteoarthritis

BMI over 30

Worth considering

 

Increasingly, we do consider people with a BMI of 30-34 for weight loss surgery. That’s because, if you’re already struggling with your weight, there’s little point in making you wait until your BMI hits 35 before providing help. If you fall into this category, please talk to Dr Lockie about your particular situation.

Is obesity really serious enough to justify surgery?

Yes, absolutely it is.

If your BMI is over 35, you are one-and-a-half times more likely to die than someone with a healthy BMI of 20-25. If your BMI is over 40, you are twice as likely to die. That’s extremely serious.

Obesity affects your entire body, increasing your risk of numerous health conditions including:   

  • Early death
  • Cancer of the oesophagus, breast, ovaries and prostate
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Pain and functional difficulties
  • Musculoskeletal problems like osteoarthritis and lower back pain
  • Depression, anxiety and other mental health struggles.

For women, obesity can lead to ovulation problems, irregular periods, and fertility difficulties. If you’re overweight while pregnant, you’re at higher risk of pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and post-partum haemorrhage.

Does weight loss surgery really make a difference?

Yes, it does.

Weight loss surgery makes a significant difference to your life in several ways. Firstly, of course, it reduces your weight. If you’re already living with obesity-related conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnoea, you may find that they improve, sometimes quite significantly.

In the Swedish Obese Subjects Study, 72% of patients with type 2 diabetes were in remission two years after their surgery. One review of the evidence concluded that bariatric surgery ‘results in a profound decrease in risk for coronary heart disease and overall mortality’.

Improved health, improved life expectancy, improved quality of life. Yes, obesity surgery really does make a difference.

How does bariatric surgery change your weight?

Weight loss surgery works by:   

  • Restricting the amount of food you can eat and/or
  • Changing how your body absorbs calories.

With a smaller stomach, you simply can’t eat as much. You feel full after eating small portions. There’s less food going in and fewer calories being absorbed. And you will hopefully also be doing more physical activity, meaning your expending energy. Fewer calories going in and more being burned off produces weight loss.  

The main types of weight loss surgery we offer are:

We’ll talk through the pros and cons of each type of surgery with you to help you reach an informed decision about the best type of weight loss surgery for you.

What can I eat after weight loss surgery?

Immediately after surgery, you’ll be on a liquid diet progressing to pureed foods in a fortnight or so and soft foods a fortnight after that. After about two months, you’ll be back on a normal diet, albeit a healthier one than you were probably on before.

You do need to make lasting changes to your diet for weight loss surgery to succeed. You need to relearn what it’s like to feel full by eating more slowly and spending your calories on healthy food choices rather than high-fat, high-sugar, low-nutrition choices.

We don’t expect you to manage all that alone. Our multidisciplinary team includes a dietitian who works alongside you after your surgery to help you understand what to eat for long-lasting benefit.

How do you prevent excess skin after weight loss surgery?

Losing weight has many positives but your skin doesn’t always keep up and can sag as a result. There are a few things you can do about that, such as:

  • Exercising to build and tone your muscles, especially your abdominals
  • Drinking plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated
  • Eating lots of fruit and veggies which improves skin elasticity 
  • Enjoying a massage, which helps firm your skin
  • Exploring surgical options such as lifts or tucks.

Will weight loss surgery solve my weight difficulties for good?

If only it were that simple!

Weight loss surgery is not a silver bullet. It doesn’t fix your weight for you with no further effort needed. Bariatric surgery helps jump start your weight loss. It’s like taking a hundred steps forward in a single leap. After that, though, you have to keep walking yourself.

That means changing your lifestyle for good by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. It’s those new habits that keep the weight off for good.

Does Medicare cover weight loss surgery?

Yes. If you’re covered by Medicare and meet the medical eligibility criteria for weight loss surgery, then Medicare will subsidise the costs.

However, very few procedures are performed in the public system where the costs are wholly covered by Medicare. That means most patients use the private system, relying on a combination of Medicare funding, private health insurance rebates and their own funds to cover the costs.

What costs can I expect with bariatric surgery?

If you’re having your surgery performed in a private hospital, then your costs will include:

  • The type of surgery you’re having
  • Your surgeon’s consultation and procedure fees
  • Surgical assistant fees
  • Hospital admission fees
  • Your anaesthetist’s fees
  • Medications prescribed after surgery.

Your out-of-pocket costs for weight loss surgery will vary depending on your insurance policy and your surgical team’s fees. You may be asked to pay $2,000–$7,000.

If you’re considering obesity surgery but don’t have private health insurance, then consider taking out a policy. You’d normally have to wait 12 months before you can have the operation but we can help you use that time well by meeting with our dietitian and psychologist in preparation for surgery.

Alternatively, you may be able to use your super to help pay for weight loss surgery.

How can Dr Lockie help?

Wherever you are on your weight loss journey, our team is here for you. We can advise you on the different types of weight loss surgery, help you access funding and work alongside you over an extended period to help you form new habits of diet and exercise.

If you think weight loss surgery could help you, please book your free consultation here.  

Disclaimer

All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.

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