So, you’ve decided to see a weight-loss surgeon.
It’s a big step but you think it’s the right one. You’re tired of those kilos stubbornly sticking to you despite your efforts to shift them. You want a decisive change.
Your appointment is coming up soon and you want to make the most of it. So, what are the most important questions you should ask your bariatric surgeon? Obviously, you’re keen to know if surgery works and how much it costs. What else should you find out before you commit?
Here are 10 questions to get you started.
1. Is this guaranteed to work for me?
Hopefully, your surgeon will answer ‘no’ to that question!
There’s convincing evidence to show that bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity. It has helped countless people to shed excess weight and keep it off for good.
That doesn’t guarantee it will work for you though. Surgery will certainly make it harder to eat large quantities of food. But you also have to make lifestyle changes to support your surgery’s success.
2. Do you offer a range of surgical options to suit people with different needs?
There are several different types of weight-loss surgery available in Australia. Most clinics will offer a few different surgical options.
When you meet your surgeon, spend some time discussing the pros and cons of the procedures they offer. Talk to your surgeon about which one is best suited to your needs and goals.
3. What is your experience?
How many times has your surgeon performed the particular procedure you’re considering? What is their complication rate? Or, to put it another way, how often is there a problem with the surgery they perform?
Our principal surgeon, Dr Durmush , has a complication rate below 0.5% with the primary sleeve. Dr Durmush is also one of the first surgeons to introduce a new metabolic weight loss procedure called the SASI (Single Anastomosis Sleeve-Ileal Bypass). This procedure combines the best features of the sleeve gastrectomy and Bypass. Dr Durmush is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons and a member of the International Federation of Surgery of Obesity (IFSO), Obesity Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (OSSANZ) and International College of Surgeons.
Link to new About Us page once live, which gives a brief bio of each surgeon.
4. How much weight can I expect to lose post-surgery?
This answer will depend on your current weight, the procedure you choose and the lifestyle changes you make as part of your weight-loss journey.
In general terms, we find that patients who have gastric banding lose about 50-60% of their excess weight within 2 years. Patients who have a gastric sleeve tend to lose 70-80% of their excess weight within 2 years and 80% to 90% with the SASI bypass.
5. What does your post-surgery support program involve?
This is a very important question. Walk away from any weight-loss surgeon who is offering the surgery and nothing else.
Of course, your surgeon should check on you in the hospital as you recover from the operation. But a successful operation isn’t the end point. You’ll need support and encouragement after surgery to make and maintain lifestyle changes.
At Life Weight Loss Centre, our post-surgery support program gives you:
- Unlimited surgeon consultations during your 2 year plan
- Unlimited telephone-based support
- Up to 7 one-to-one consultations with a dietitian, exercise physiologist and psychologist
- Band adjustments for gastric band patients.
6. How will weight-loss surgery impact my life?
Bariatric surgery may affect you in many different ways.
On the plus side, bariatric surgery has many health benefits – living longer tops the list. Surgery can help to reduce your risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer. This is the kind of question medical research answers.
Then there’s lived experience. Losing weight tends to improve your quality of life. You usually have more energy, find it easier to do things and have better self-esteem.
You may also discover that some of the things you struggle with weren’t actually about your weight at all. If you’ve had surgery and lost weight but still find it hard to accept or like yourself, then you may benefit from seeing a psychologist to work things through.
7. How can I prepare myself emotionally?
By having realistic expectations. Bariatric surgery and a supportive post-op program should help you get closer to a healthy weight. That’s a good thing and contributes to improved health and longevity.
That’s ‘all’ it does though. Losing weight will not solve every problem you face in life. It’s not a magic wand and it does still take work on your part for it to succeed.
8. What are the risks involved with surgery?
All surgery carries risks. Modern surgery is very advanced and few patients experience problems but you should be aware of the risks of bariatric surgery, no matter how unlikely they are to happen to you.
In the long term, bariatric surgery may have side effects such as:
- Hernias, gallstones and ulcers
- Bowel obstruction (0% in our cohort)
- Dumping syndrome (diarrhea, nausea and vomiting) – usually related to bad food choices
- Acid reflux and vomiting
- Malnutrition (0% in our cohort)
Some patients may end up needing a follow-up procedure if there are complications from the first surgery.
While these risks may sound scary, they need to be weighed up against the very significant health risks of obesity.
9. What will it cost me?
You want a really clear answer to this question before going ahead. The exact answer will obviously depend on your procedure, your health insurance, and your surgeon’s and anesthetist’s fees.
At Life Weight Loss Centre, we give you a written quote that covers everything – the surgeon, the anaesthetist, the assistants, the hospital costs and unlimited post-op consultations – so there are no nasty surprises.
10. Can I still get pregnant after weight-loss surgery?
Losing weight will often improve your fertility. However, we recommend that you wait a year after having a weight loss surgery to fall pregnant.
Waiting gives your body time to recover from the surgery and adjust to the nutritional upheaval. It also gives you time to get used to properly nourishing yourself before you become responsible for the nutritional needs of a developing baby too. Our dietitians can work with you to increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
How Life Weight Loss Centre Can Help
If you’d like Dr Durmush to answer your questions about bariatric surgery, then please make an appointment by calling 1300 669 259.
Once you’ve got the answers to your questions, take a bit of time to reflect. Does it sound like this is the right option for you? Can you afford it? Are your expectations realistic?
If you decide to go ahead, then it’s time to schedule your surgery and start the pre-op preparations. All the best with it!
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.