Frequently Asked Questions
Weight loss surgery, can also be called bariatric or metabolic surgery. It is sometimes used as a treatment for people who are very obese.
It can lead to significant weight loss and help improve many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or hight blood pressure
Bariatric Surgery is a major abdominal operation and in most cases should only be considered after trying and failing to lose weight through a healthy diet and exercise
There is strict criteria to be considered for bariatric surgery. This includes:
- BMI of 40 kg/m2 or more, or between 35 kg/m2 and 39.9 kg/m2 with a significant health condition that could be improved if they lost weight (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnoea) and agree to the necessary long-term follow up after surgery
- Non-surgical attempts of weight loss but has not been achieved or maintained
- Fit for anaesthesia and surgery
- Commitment for long term follow-up
If you think you would be eligible for bariatric surgery, please discuss this with your GP.
Yes - whilst your stomach is healing you will be given a diet plan to follow after surgery.
These vary with each surgery, but a typical plan is:
- first day – water and fluids only
- first 4-6 weeks – 1-3 tablespoons puree food without lumps (for example yoghurt or weetabix)
- weeks 6 to 10 – 3 tablespoons soft/mashable food (for example, mashed potato, scrambled egg)
- week 10 onwards – 3-4 tablespoons, gradually return to a healthy, balanced of normal texture
You will also be advised to:
- eat slowly, chew well and only eat small amounts at a time – particularly during the early stages of your recovery
- avoid, or be careful when eating, foods that could block your stomach, such as soft white bread
- take vitamin & mineral supplements daily
- Separate your drinks and food by at least 30 minutes
As with any other surgical procedures, there are risks associated, although complication rates for weight loss surgery are low.
Some associated risks are:
- Leaks in the stomach
- Internal bleeding
- Reactions to anaesthesia
- Blood clots within the legs and lungs
- Internal twisting of the bowel can happen at a later stage
No specific amount of weight loss is guaranteed. If you follow the dietary advice, meal plans provided and exercise regularly you could expect to lose upto 70% of your excess weight.
A follow-up care package for a minimum of 2 years is provided. This includes:
- monitoring nutritional intake (including protein, vitamin and mineral deficiencies)
- monitoring for comorbidities
- dietary and nutritional assessment, advice and support
- psychological support tailored to the individual
- information about professionally led or peer-support groups.
All patients who undergo bariatric surgery need to take lifelong vitamin and mineral supplements. These will vary slightly depending on the type of surgery you have. Most patients will require 3 monthly vitamin B12 injections as well as tablets daily. Failure to take the recommended supplements can result in serious health problems such as fits, blindness and even death.
For many patients, exercise is important for stress control and appetite control, as well as burning off calories. For the first 6 weeks take care not to lift anything heavier than 5Kg and keep active with walking and doing stairs in the early days post operatively.
As we age, lack of activity can lead to being frail or fragile, which is quite dangerous to overall health. Healthy bones and avoiding muscle loss partly depends on doing weekly exercise.
Most patients also think of exercise as something that must be intense and painful (like “boot camp”). Regular, modest activity is far more useful in the long term. Try to find a variety of activities that can work for you. There is no “one-size-fits-all” plan. Expect to learn and change as you go!
Pregnancy should not be planned until your weight is stable; this is usually after the first 18-24 months from your surgery. During this period, you will be experiencing rapid weight loss and you are most at risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies which may be harmful to the baby.
The effectiveness of the pill may be reduced after surgery so you should seek advice on alternative methods of contraception.
Some hair loss is common between 3 and 6 months following surgery but almost always temporary.
The reasons for hair loss are not totally understood. Even if you take all recommended supplements and meet protein requirements, hair loss will be noticed until the follicles come back. Adequate intake of protein, vitamins, and minerals will help to ensure hair re-growth, and avoid longer term thinning. Specific supplements or shampoos often do not help and can be expensive.
If you choose to explore bariatric surgery in a private hospital or overseas it is important to make background checks to check the surgery is going to be safe and appropriate for you.
The type of checks you should make include:
Confirm your surgeon's qualifications and credentials.
Ensure the clinic or hospital is accredited.
Clarify the overall cost of your procedure including follow up arrangements with a dietitian/Bariatric nurse and psychologist.
What assessments, education and support is there before and after the surgery.
Confirm when you will be safe to fly home.
Who to contact or what to do if there are complications?