Surgery can help with weight loss by reducing the amount of food you can eat (restriction), interfering with the absorption of food (malabsorption) and/or reducing your hunger hormones.
Weight loss surgery is recommended if you have a very high body mass index (BMI) or if you have a condition that makes weight loss essential for your health.
To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared. [Mass (kg)/height (m)2]. You can use the Australian Heart Foundation BMI calculator to work it out.
Most weight loss surgeries are done as keyhole procedures under general anaesthetic. Occasionally, surgeons have to switch to an open procedure if they have problems.
HCF members may be able to claim for certain procedures, depending on the procedure and your level of cover. To learn more, call us on 13 13 34 .
The main types of weight loss surgery are:
Adjustable gastric band (lap band)
An inflatable band is placed around the upper part of your stomach, creating a small stomach pouch above the band with the rest of your stomach sitting below the band. This procedure is increasingly uncommon due to a high failure rate and long term complications. Learn more about adjustable gastric banding.
Gastric bypass surgery
Your surgeon connects a small part of your stomach directly to a part of your small intestine so that food bypasses most of your stomach and the top part of your small intestine. Learn more about gastric bypass.
BPD/DS gastric bypass or Single anastomosis duodenoileal bypass (SADI, alternative to BPD/DS)
BPD/DS stands for Biliopancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch. It’s a 2-part procedure. The first involves removing a large part of your stomach, and the second is bypassing part of your small intestine. Learn more about BPD/DS.
Gastric sleeve surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery, also called a ‘sleeve gastrectomy’ involves removing approximately 80–90% of your stomach, leaving behind a small tubular pouch. Learn more about gastric sleeve surgery.
With this surgery, your surgeon makes large folds in the outside wall of your stomach. The folds reduce the size of your stomach by about 75%. Learn more about gastric plication.
Which is the best procedure for me?
This depends on a number of things, including how much weight you need to lose, how quickly you need to lose it and any other medical conditions you have. For example, if you have reflux (GORD) a bypass procedure may be the better option. If you have a very high BMI, a bypass procedure is more likely to give you a greater weight loss than a restrictive procedure alone. It’s worth nothing that gastric band (or lap band) surgery is less common than it has been because of high failure rates and ongoing complications.
It’s important to understand that the long-term risk of weight regain can also vary with different procedures. Your surgeon’s skill and experience with the procedure is also an important factor.
Whichever procedure suits you best, you also need to factor in the need to make permanent changes in what you can and should eat. You’ll also need to have regular follow-up visits with your doctor and dietitian to check on progress.
Ask your surgeon about the results and risks associated with your procedure. Also ask about their own rates of patient satisfaction and the rate of complications following the procedures they’ve performed.