We hear about weight loss procedures from friends, family, websites or the media. There are great results for most, and disappointing results for some. There are stories that make us want to step up and then stories that make us step back again. There seems to be too much information all mixed together. Let us guide you through the maze by asking a series of simple, but relevant questions.
Is it for me?
1. Is my weight problem serious enough?
Review your current level of obesity, the health issues that may be present or may appear in the future if you do not lose weight, the physical and social limitations you may be suffering because of your weight, and the effect of your obesity on your life expectancy. First, check your BMI. If you are not sure what it is, go to the BMI calculator and find out. If you are above a BMI of 27, you can consider the intragastric balloon. If your BMI is above 30 you can also consider the Lap-Band procedure. If your BMI is above 35, you can consider the Lap-Band, sleeve and gastric bypass. Second, consider your health status. You may have diabetes, hypertension, low back pain, depression or any of dozens of illnesses that are chronic and, at least in part, related to your obesity. You may worry about your future health, the potential for the family history of diabetes to intrude, the limitations that osteoarthritis of the hips or knees will place on your life or the potential catastrophe of a stroke or heart attack. Next, you may be noticing that the physical limitations of your obesity are preventing you from doing the things that you would like to do and, at your age, you feel you should be able to do. You may be painfully aware of how you weight has reduced your self-esteem and self-confidence. You don’t want to mix socially. You hate trying to buy clothes and you feel like crying when you look in the bathroom mirror. Finally, you may worry about the effect of your obesity and what the associated illnesses are going to do to your life expectancy. How many years of life will you miss because of your weight? Not only are you experiencing a life that is limited by obesity, you are likely to miss the golden years of enjoying retirement , ticking off the items on the bucket list and sharing good times with family, friends, children and grandchildren.
2. Have I given the lifestyle options a fair go?
Eating less and doing more; that is essence of the lifestyle options and includes the hundreds of diet and exercise programs which may or may not be supervised by a healthcare professional. These include all the commercial weight loss groups, drug therapy and very low calorie diets such as Optifast. Some people have solved their obesity problem with one or more of the non-procedural options. But there are very few. Almost everybody can lose quite a lot of weight with whatever method but almost nobody is able to keep that weight off for more than 12 months or so. Nevertheless you must give it a good go – you may be one of those lucky few. However, the vast majority of those who reach out to us have been there many times. They have ten years, twenty years or even longer of effort and experience. They know deep in their hearts that they are not among the lucky few that can keep the weight off. They know that one more try of this or that is just wasting more time and money. They are just avoiding the acceptance that these various weight loss programs are not going to work for them.
3. Am I ready to consider a weight loss procedure?
This is the key question. When do you step from the path of lifestyle options you may have followed for years, accept that it is not leading you in the right direction, and take the path to substantial and durable weight loss? Don’t listen to those who say you are taking the easy way out. This is serious stuff. This is definitely not the easy way out. It is a powerful and positive way to lose weight, keep it off and improve your health. But it is not easy. First, it requires a commitment by you to do your part. You are a partner in the process and we need to have you totally committed to achieving the best outcome. This will occur if you follow the rules of eating, follow the rules of exercise and come back to the aftercare program. We can make sure you are aware of these rules but we cannot make you follow them – that is your job as our partner. Second, it requires you to understand that you are making the most important health care decision of your life. In surgery, we always seek consent from the patient for any treatment. But, in most cases, the need to proceed is clear. If you have a cancer, we inform you as best we can but we both know that declining treatment is not serious option. Weight loss surgery is different. It is truly elective surgery. You can elect to proceed or to not proceed. We try to give you the best information to help but, at the end of the day, it is your decision. Third, there are costs to be considered. These include dollar costs, time costs and some pain and suffering. The dollar costs depend on insurance cover, access to your own money in your super fund and access to other sources of funds. The amounts depend a little on which surgeon you see and which procedure you have. We can explain all the costs and your options for covering them by coming into the clinic and talking to our patient adviser. The time off work depends on the procedure. The Lap-Band is usually a day patient procedure and you would be off work for 3-8 days. For the sleeve and bypass stapling procedures, you are in hospital for one to three days and generally off work for up to two weeks. The pain and suffering is modest and transient. Mostly you would take Panadol or equivalent for pain after you go home but we give you a few tablets that are stronger in case the Panadol is not enough. Finally, as the surgeon, we make our own decision on whether we would agree to proceed.
4. Which procedure is best for me?
You have several options and you could easily become confused in trying to decide which one to take. You hear different messages from family and friends, websites or your local doctor. Often the advice is based on a single event, good or bad. You really need professional help with this. We know about all the procedures, their strengths and weaknesses. Talk to us; we can work with you in deciding what may be the best option for you. We provide four main options – the intragastric balloon, the Lap-Band procedure, the sleeve gastrectomy and the gastric bypass. Just click on the name to get information about each of these procedures. Each of the procedures is effective. Each has its particular strengths and its particular weaknesses. None is perfect but all are very good. Most people come to us with one procedure in mind. They have family or friends or work colleagues who have done well and they want to go the same way. They may have gone to websites and read the details and promises of each. They may have been on internet forums and heard the gossip and the personal points of view. We are experienced in them all. We have used them all over many years and have deep experience with them. We know the history and we know the published literature of what has happened and what is happening worldwide. We are happy to share this with you. We can suggest what we feel might be your best approach but generally we will support you in whatever final decision you make.