The Surgery Option
Weight loss surgery becomes an option when
- you have a BMI of 35 or more
- you already have obesity-related diseases or health concerns
- you have been unable to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, in spite of genuine effort and a medically supervised diet and exercise program.
If this is your experience, then weight-loss surgery can provide the basis for your journey towards a normal, healthy life.
Dr Ma conducts a full range of medical, physical and psychological tests. This will assist in determining the best overall treatment plan for you. She will discuss the surgical options in detail with you, so you can make an informed decision. This will include making you aware of the possible risks and complications, as well as the potential benefits of the surgery.
Preparation for Surgery
At least 2 weeks before the date of your surgery, you will be required to commence a very low calorie diet (VLCD). All surgery involves an element of risk; reducing the amount of abdominal fat and the size of your liver helps to minimise this risk. This diet will also help to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. Sticking to this diet before your surgery will give you confidence that you can follow the diet required of you after the surgery.
You must not eat or drink anything after midnight on the day before your surgery. Failure to comply with this could see your surgery postponed in order to avoid major risks associated with surgery when there is food in the gastrointestinal tract.
Your Weight Loss Surgery
You will be admitted to hospital on the morning of the surgery. After your surgery, you will spend a few hours in the recovery room, where you will be monitored closely to ensure you are recovering appropriately. You may feel some discomfort once the anesthesia has worn off, and this will be treated by the nursing staff.
It is important to get out of bed and move around as soon as possible. The nursing staff will assist you. Movement is important to prevent respiratory problems and blood clots, which are potentially very dangerous.
Hospital stay for bariatric surgery is usually somewhere between 1 and 4 days, but this can vary according to individual circumstances and your recovery path.
Any discomfort should gradually subside over the first few days post-operatively.
Gentle walking will help you regain strength, and will also help to establish the beginnings of your exercise program.
You may be instructed not to shower for a day or so, to help prevent any wound infection. You should wait until the surgical wound is fully healed before going swimming.
Initially, you will be given clear fluids only, and you will need to sip them in very small amounts. The medical team will check to ensure there are no leaks from the adjustments made to your gastrointestinal tract (which will vary according to the type of surgery you’ve undergone). Once there has been a positive result from the x-ray, you will be able to take other fluids.
During the first week after your surgery, you need to focus on recovery. It’s important to get plenty of rest, along with gentle movement.
Post-Operative 4-6 weeks
As your body heals you will gradually be able to introduce more solid foods, under the supervision of your dietitian, who will also advise you regarding the amount and frequency of eating.
At the same time, you can begin a gradual build-up of your exercise program; in conjunction with this you should also try to stay as active as possible throughout the day. Your formal exercise – walking , swimming or gentle aerobics – should be done for 30 minutes per day, and this can be broken up into 3 periods of 10 minutes if you find that one period of 30 minutes is too exhausting. For this early post-operative period, it is best to stick to walking, swimming and gentle aerobics. You should avoid strength training for 8 weeks after weight loss surgery.
Your first post-operative appointment with Dr Ma will be scheduled for 1-2 weeks after surgery.
Your New Lifestyle
After 6 weeks, you should be settled into your new way of life, and you should already have lost several kilos. Your commitment will be tested from time to time, but the rewards for staying with your new lifestyle will be immense.
We encourage you to stay in touch with our dietitian, to ensure you have a support group of ‘fellow travellers’, and that you have support for your exercise program. Dr Ma will schedule further post-operative progress checks 3 monthly, and then as appropriate. Should you experience significant weight gain, you should seek advice.
Learn to enjoy your diet, explore the taste of healthy foods, see your exercise program as a treat for your body, and most of all, enjoy and celebrate your new sense of wellbeing.
Dr Suzanne Ma
MBBS (Monash) FRACS (General)
Dr Ma is an expert in weight loss surgery as part of an overall weight loss for life and health program.