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What You Really Want To Know About Weight Loss Surgery

19th March 2021

Managing your weight is hard, particularly if you seem to gain kilos easily. It can feel like a never-ending struggle at times. Eventually, you may start to consider weight loss surgery, prompting many questions. So, here are the answers to the questions patients most commonly ask.

Who can get weight loss surgery?

To find out if you qualify for weight loss surgery, start by working out your body mass index or BMI. A BMI calculation takes your weight in kilograms and divides it by your height squared. Thankfully, you don’t need to work that out in your head! You can use our online BMI calculator below.

BMI Calculator

Height
Cms.

Weight
Kgs.

Results

Now you know your BMI, you can determine whether or not you’re eligible for weight loss surgery.

Eligibility for weight loss surgery

BMI over 40

Immediately eligible

BMI over 35

Eligible if you have another condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, heart disease, sleep apnoea or osteoarthritis

BMI over 30

Worth considering

 

Increasingly, we do consider people with a BMI of 30-34 for weight loss surgery. That’s because, if you’re already struggling with your weight, there’s little point in making you wait until your BMI hits 35 before providing help. If you fall into this category, please talk to Dr Lockie about your particular situation.

Is obesity really serious enough to justify surgery?

Yes, absolutely it is.

If your BMI is over 35, you are one-and-a-half times more likely to die than someone with a healthy BMI of 20-25. If your BMI is over 40, you are twice as likely to die. That’s extremely serious.

Obesity affects your entire body, increasing your risk of numerous health conditions including:   

  • Early death
  • Cancer of the oesophagus, breast, ovaries and prostate
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Pain and functional difficulties
  • Musculoskeletal problems like osteoarthritis and lower back pain
  • Depression, anxiety and other mental health struggles.

For women, obesity can lead to ovulation problems, irregular periods, and fertility difficulties. If you’re overweight while pregnant, you’re at higher risk of pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and post-partum haemorrhage.

Does weight loss surgery really make a difference?

Yes, it does.

Weight loss surgery makes a significant difference to your life in several ways. Firstly, of course, it reduces your weight. If you’re already living with obesity-related conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnoea, you may find that they improve, sometimes quite significantly.

In the Swedish Obese Subjects Study, 72% of patients with type 2 diabetes were in remission two years after their surgery. One review of the evidence concluded that bariatric surgery ‘results in a profound decrease in risk for coronary heart disease and overall mortality’.

Improved health, improved life expectancy, improved quality of life. Yes, obesity surgery really does make a difference.

How does bariatric surgery change your weight?

Weight loss surgery works by:   

  • Restricting the amount of food you can eat and/or
  • Changing how your body absorbs calories.

With a smaller stomach, you simply can’t eat as much. You feel full after eating small portions. There’s less food going in and fewer calories being absorbed. And you will hopefully also be doing more physical activity, meaning your expending energy. Fewer calories going in and more being burned off produces weight loss.  

The main types of weight loss surgery we offer are:

We’ll talk through the pros and cons of each type of surgery with you to help you reach an informed decision about the best type of weight loss surgery for you.

What can I eat after weight loss surgery?

Immediately after surgery, you’ll be on a liquid diet progressing to pureed foods in a fortnight or so and soft foods a fortnight after that. After about two months, you’ll be back on a normal diet, albeit a healthier one than you were probably on before.

You do need to make lasting changes to your diet for weight loss surgery to succeed. You need to relearn what it’s like to feel full by eating more slowly and spending your calories on healthy food choices rather than high-fat, high-sugar, low-nutrition choices.

We don’t expect you to manage all that alone. Our multidisciplinary team includes a dietitian who works alongside you after your surgery to help you understand what to eat for long-lasting benefit.

How do you prevent excess skin after weight loss surgery?

Losing weight has many positives but your skin doesn’t always keep up and can sag as a result. There are a few things you can do about that, such as:

  • Exercising to build and tone your muscles, especially your abdominals
  • Drinking plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated
  • Eating lots of fruit and veggies which improves skin elasticity 
  • Enjoying a massage, which helps firm your skin
  • Exploring surgical options such as lifts or tucks.

Will weight loss surgery solve my weight difficulties for good?

If only it were that simple!

Weight loss surgery is not a silver bullet. It doesn’t fix your weight for you with no further effort needed. Bariatric surgery helps jump start your weight loss. It’s like taking a hundred steps forward in a single leap. After that, though, you have to keep walking yourself.

That means changing your lifestyle for good by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. It’s those new habits that keep the weight off for good.

Does Medicare cover weight loss surgery?

Yes. If you’re covered by Medicare and meet the medical eligibility criteria for weight loss surgery, then Medicare will subsidise the costs.

However, very few procedures are performed in the public system where the costs are wholly covered by Medicare. That means most patients use the private system, relying on a combination of Medicare funding, private health insurance rebates and their own funds to cover the costs.

What costs can I expect with bariatric surgery?

If you’re having your surgery performed in a private hospital, then your costs will include:

  • The type of surgery you’re having
  • Your surgeon’s consultation and procedure fees
  • Surgical assistant fees
  • Hospital admission fees
  • Your anaesthetist’s fees
  • Medications prescribed after surgery.

Your out-of-pocket costs for weight loss surgery will vary depending on your insurance policy and your surgical team’s fees. You may be asked to pay $2,000–$7,000.

If you’re considering obesity surgery but don’t have private health insurance, then consider taking out a policy. You’d normally have to wait 12 months before you can have the operation but we can help you use that time well by meeting with our dietitian and psychologist in preparation for surgery.

Alternatively, you may be able to use your super to help pay for weight loss surgery.

How can Dr Lockie help?

Wherever you are on your weight loss journey, our team is here for you. We can advise you on the different types of weight loss surgery, help you access funding and work alongside you over an extended period to help you form new habits of diet and exercise.

If you think weight loss surgery could help you, please book your free consultation here.  

Disclaimer

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.

Bariatric Surgery and Type 2 Diabetes

24th February 2021

Finding out you have type 2 diabetes may prompt you to explore weight loss surgery since it’s clear that your weight is affecting your health.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects over a million Australians. It’s a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time.

When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks the food down into simple sugars, mainly glucose, which are released into your bloodstream. Your body makes a hormone called insulin which acts like a key to unlock your cells and allow the glucose to enter and provide them with energy.

In type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin and the glucose gets stuck in your bloodstream. Your pancreas responds to your rising blood sugar level by pumping out more and more insulin in an attempt to get back to a normal blood sugar. But it’s not enough. The insulin doesn’t effectively control your blood sugar anymore. Your blood sugar keeps rising and your pancreas keeps trying harder. After years of this, your pancreas is simply worn out. By the time you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you may have lost 50-70% of your insulin-producing cells.

So, what causes insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes? Your risk is influenced by your:

  • Genetics and family history
  • Age
  • Medical history of other conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing’s disease and previous gestational diabetes
  • Lifestyle – a poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and being overweight all contribute to type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a serious condition, with long-term health consequences. It affects every part of your body and increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney damage and nerve problems.

It’s usually treated with lifestyle modifications and medications initially but, as it is a progressive condition, many people ultimately need insulin injections.

How does weight influence type 2 diabetes?

Obesity accounts for 80-85% of type 2 diabetes risk. Obese people are 80 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than lean people. Obesity, particularly excess fat around your abdomen, triggers changes in your metabolism that cause insulin resistance.

Losing weight can significantly improve your insulin sensitivity. Indeed, people can successfully manage type 2 diabetes by losing weight, eating well and exercising regularly (exercise also improves your insulin sensitivity).

Achieving lasting weight loss can be very difficult, though. That’s why bariatric surgery is so helpful for people with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes and weight loss surgery

Bariatric surgery offers hope to people with type 2 diabetes who need to reduce weight. It’s shown significant results in the management of type 2 diabetes.

A 2019 study examined the results of gastric bypass surgery on patients with type 2 diabetes. They found that gastric bypass surgery causes type 2 diabetes to go into remission in over 70% of patients within 1 year of surgery.

That made a big difference to their health when compared with a control group of similar patients who did not have weight loss surgery. Five years after surgery, the gastric bypass patients had significantly reduced their risk of diabetes complications like eye disease and kidney disease.

A few years earlier in 2016, the CROSSROADS trial compared intensive lifestyle modifications with gastric bypass surgery to see which was more effective in reversing type 2 diabetes.

The lifestyle change group did the hard yards over the next year – doing at least 45 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week, following a careful diet, and treating their diabetes optimally. A year later, 5.9% of them were in diabetes remission. What happened to those patients who had gastric bypass surgery? A year after their op, 60% of them were in remission.

Lifestyle changes with bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery certainly helps to kickstart your weight loss, reducing the calories you consume and (depending on the type of operation) changing how your body absorbs food.

But you can’t continue living as you were before. Bariatric surgery is done in conjunction with lifestyle changes like following a healthy, nutritious diet and developing the habit of regular exercise.

That becomes much easier when you have the right support around you. Bariatric surgery shouldn’t just involve a surgeon but also a multidisciplinary team of other healthcare professionals who can give you the support you need to change your diet and increase your exercise in order to keep the weight off for good.

How can Dr Lockie help?

If you’re obese and living with type 2 diabetes, then the best thing you can possibly do for your health is to lose weight.

Dr Lockie provides many different types of weight loss surgery to help people with diabetes to reach a healthy weight. At your first consultation, we’ll talk through your situation and the risks and benefits of surgery. As one of Dr Lockie’s patients, you’ll also benefit from the skills of a dietitian, psychologist and exercise physiologists and receive continuing education through our patient support groups with Dr Lockie.

If you’d like to learn more about bariatric surgery for type 2 diabetes, please book in for your free consultation.

Disclaimer

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.

Gastric Sleeve: Your Questions Answered

8th January 2021

Once you’ve decided to have bariatric surgery, you’re faced with the choice of which type. The common types of weight loss surgery each have different pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve.

What does a gastric sleeve do?

A gastric sleeve is an operation that removes about 80% of your stomach, effectively turning the stomach into a small tube that looks a bit like a banana.

How does a gastric sleeve help you lose weight?

A gastric sleeve operation makes your stomach quite small, meaning that you feel full after eating only a small portion of food. In addition to feeling full after less food, you’ll probably also feel less hungry to begin with. That’s because a gastric sleeve reduces your production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

How do you qualify for a gastric sleeve?

It’s usually based on your body mass index (BMI) and the presence of obesity-related conditions.Your BMI is used to determine whether you are a healthy weight for your height. There are many online BMI calculators which will give you a result. You can find one on the home page of our website.

Generally, if your BMI is more than 40, you would immediately qualify for obesity surgery. If your BMI is 35-40, you may qualify if you also have an obesity-related condition like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. In some cases, you may qualify for surgery even with a lower BMI.

The other important qualification is your willingness to change your lifestyle and follow the medical advice you receive to ensure you receive proper nutrition and achieve and maintain the weight loss you’re hoping for.

You would not qualify for obesity surgery if you can’t have a general anaesthetic, are not of sound mind, or have active drug or alcohol abuse.

How successful is gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery has been shown to have many benefits including:

How much weight do you lose after a gastric sleeve?

Studies show that patients tend to lose about 60% of their excess body weight and maintain this for at least 5 years after surgery.

Your excess body weight refers to the kilos you’re carrying above a healthy weight for your height. Let’s say a healthy weight for you would be 65kg but you currently weigh 110kg. That means you have 45kg of excess weight. If you had a gastric sleeve and lost 60% of your excess weight, you’d lose 27kg, taking your weight down to a healthier 82kg.You’re still above your ideal weight but you’re significantly lighter than you were, resulting in improved vitality and quality of life and reducing your obesity-related health risks.

Can you put the weight back on after gastric sleeve surgery?

Yes. Surgery kickstarts your weight loss but to continue on the journey, you’ll need to make permanent lifestyle changes such as:

  • Eating smaller portions
  • Eating healthy foods that nourish your body without high calories
  • Exercising and being physically active.

We know that lifestyle change is hard. That’s why we support you after surgery with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who can help you develop healthy habits.

How long does it take to recover from gastric sleeve surgery?

You might stay 1-2 nights in hospital after your gastric sleeve surgery. It’s usually keyhole surgery meaning you only have small incision wounds but it’s still made a significant change to your body and you need to take it easy afterwards.You’ll be living on a liquid or pureed diet initially but should be able to eat normal food after the first month. You’ll also need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure your body is properly nourished.

The 3-6 months after surgery are usually a time of rapid weight loss. During this time, you may feel tired and moody and notice body aches.

Can you eat normally after a gastric sleeve?

Not immediately. We start you off on a liquid diet, then you progress to pureed food. After a month, you can usually start eating solid food.But it shouldn’t be the diet you were used to before. To get the most from your surgery, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Take full advantage of your new lack of appetite to get into the right eating and exercising habits that will help you keep the weight off in the long run.

During the initial recovery period, you need to take in the appropriate amount of calories, protein and vitamins in order to avoid feeling ill, weak and possibly losing some hair. Protein is important as it helps you maintain muscle bulk, meaning you lose fat, not muscle.

What are the risks of gastric sleeve?

Any surgical procedure carries risk. The common risks of a gastric sleeve include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Clots
  • A staple line leak or bleed
  • A hernia
  • Death (though this is extremely rare).

After the procedure, as you return to your daily life, you may experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies (remedied with supplements), insufficient weight loss or loose skin from rapid weight loss.These risks all have to be weighed against the risks of obesity. Bariatric surgery is a well-tested tool to help you achieve a healthy weight.

Do you live longer after bariatric surgery?

Hopefully. As noted above, obesity increases your risk for many serious diseases and health conditions including cancer and heart disease.

It also reduces your quality of life, since you’re likely to be living with a number of obesity-related conditions and likely to tire easily. Patients often tell us that their weight means they miss out on many fun things they’d like to do – perhaps one reason why obesity is linked to depression.

The Swedish Obese Subjects Study compared 2000 obese people who had bariatric surgery with 2000 similar people who didn’t. The results showed that the surgery group lived longer and experienced lower rates of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Explore Your Options

If you’d like to learn more about gastric sleeve surgery, then please book a free consultation with our Perioperative Nurse Surgical Assistant, Shirley Lockie. We’d love to help you explore your weight loss options.

Disclaimer

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.

Bariatric Surgery Success: The Importance of a Multidisciplinary Approach

23rd December 2020

Healthcare professionals are usually trained in one particular discipline. But, as a patient seeking bariatric surgery, your weight relates to many different areas of your life.

Treating one area in isolation isn’t likely to work very well. You need a multidisciplinary team.

What is a multidisciplinary team?

A multidisciplinary team is a group of qualified healthcare professionals who are each trained in a different discipline but work together. The team members each provide a different aspect of care based on their own expertise, meaning you’ll often have several appointments with different professionals.

Crucially, though, they do need to work as a team. They’ll come together to discuss their recommendations and develop a coordinated treatment plan that’s comprehensive but not overwhelming for you.

What makes Dr Lockie’s approach to weight loss different?

Obesity is rarely caused by one factor in our lives. It’s the result of a complex interplay between your genetics, family history, lifestyle, environment and psychology.

Australia faces a growing obesity epidemic, with statistics from 2019 showing 5.8 million Australians currently live with obesity – about 31.3% of the country’s population.

In 2017–18, around 1 in 4 (24%) of Australian children aged 5-14 were overweight (17%) or obese (7.7%).

If losing weight was easy, you and every other person struggling with their weight would have done it already. There are many challenges to overcome in changing your lifestyle, activity levels and food intake to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Surgery is one, very significant, part of your weight-loss treatment. But you need a range of other support to help you succeed.

Access to a multidisciplinary team who can guide you through your weight loss journey helps by:

  • Examining all the factors that contributed to your weight gain

  • Forming a range of strategies to help you manage your weight pre and post surgery

Our multidisciplinary team approach

Although bariatric surgery kick-starts your weight loss, it is not a ‘miracle cure’. Significant dietary, psychological and lifestyle changes are required post surgery.

We start that process before your surgery with education sessions to increase your knowledge and skills and to provide support.

The weight can creep back on over time so we provide long-term support to:

  • Address weight gain at an early stage

  • Improve long-term weight and psychosocial outcomes

  • Help you achieve and maintain optimal weight loss for many years to come.

We don’t complete your operation and send you on your way. Instead, we support you indefinitely to implement and maintain the changes required to achieve and sustain long-term weight maintenance.

Your surgical team

Bariatric surgery has been shown to help people lose weight and keep it off. A Swedish study of over 2,000 obese people who had bariatric surgery found that, compared to a similar group of obese people who did not have surgery, those people who did were much more successful in controlling their weight over the next 20 years. The surgery group also lived longer and had lower rates of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Your surgical team oversees your operation and all related procedures. They will be integral to your weight loss journey.

There are several different types of bariatric surgery, but all work to make your stomach much smaller, which causes you to feel full after eating only a small amount of food.

The main types of bariatric surgery are:

  • Gastric bypass, where a small stomach pouch is created by stapling. This is joined directly to the small intestine after some of the intestine has been removed. Food bypasses most of the stomach and fewer calories are absorbed.

  • Gastric sleeve surgery, where most of the stomach is removed, including the part that makes a hormone which makes you feel hungry.

  • Single Anastomosis Duodenal Bypass (SADI), where most of the stomach is removed (similar to a gastric sleeve surgery). The first part of the small intestine is then detached and reattached to a loop of intestine further down. Food then bypasses the metabolically active part of the intestine. This results in hormonal changes which are seen to have a positive affect on the metabolism.

Your psychologist

You’ll be partnered with a psychologist who will help you identify and address any underlying emotional issues that have been preventing you from losing excess weight. This will help you break any negative patterns and form healthier habits moving forward.

Your dietitian

Dietitians help people to understand the relationship between food and health. They also help people change their diet so that they can become healthier, and stay healthier. Your dietitian will help you adjust to life after your surgery and understand how to enjoy a healthy, varied diet.

Exercise physiologist

Exercise physiologists apply their extensive knowledge of human movement and exercise with a therapeutic approach aiming to improve quality of life, disease management or treatment outcomes across all populations.

We refer you to an exercise physiologist that we work very closely with. They offer classes and support to all our patients and will help you learn and adjust to a new exercise regime after your surgery.

After your initial consultations with our dietitian and psychologist, additional phone consultations will provide ongoing support and minimise barriers such as time, distance and cost.

Having a team of highly-qualified professionals at their disposal is the reason many patients of Dr Lockie successfully lose weight and keep it off for the long-term. See Dr Lockies Weight Loss Success Rate Comparison.

If you’d like to learn more about our multidisciplinary approach to weight loss and how it could benefit you, then please contact us.

Disclaimer

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.

 

Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease: It’s never too late to lose weight

11th November 2020

It’s been well known for some years that bariatric surgery can reduce your risk of cardiovascular events such as strokes or heart attacks. This data comes from the long running Swedish obesity study.

Bariatric Surgery Can Lower 2nd Heart Attack Risk

A recent publication, again from Sweden, has demonstrated that people with a BMI of over 35, who’ve had a previous heart attack, who then have bariatric surgery lower their risk of a second heart attack, other cardiovascular events, heart failure and death, compared to people who did not have weight loss surgery. This study is published in Circulation which is the flag ship journal of the American Heart Association.

The study looked at data from 2005 to 2018, of over a thousand patients who’d had heart attacks and divided them into two groups, one with surgery and one without. The average BMI in both groups was 40, patients were also matched for gender, age, health status and health history. The data was gathered with follow up of up to 8 years.

Bariatric Surgery Improved a Range of Associated Conditions

The researchers found that bariatric surgery was associated with a lower risk of heart attack and a lower risk of new onset cardiac failure. The risk of death in the surgery group was half of that in the non-surgery group. The researchers noted that not only did the patients obviously have reduction in weight but they had significant improvements in sleep apnoea, blood pressure, cholesterol and more than half of the patients also experienced improvement in Type 2 diabetes.

Although this was not a randomised prospective study, it still provides strong evidence that even in patients who have experienced a sentinel event such as a heart attack, weight reduction surgery can significantly improve their long term survival.

If you interested in being part of the team approach to weight-loss, book in for a free consultation here when you can find out how we work and what to expect.

* Dr Lockie has been awarded Leading Contributor status of the BSR for the past 4 years. Read more here.

Read more here on Dr Lockie's record of success according the the BSR.

Dr Lockie's Weight Loss Success Rate Comparison

12th August 2020

The whole team here at Dr Lockie's Practice has a strong belief in the multi-disciplinary approach to bariatrics delivering better outcomes for patients.

We put that belief to the test with our contribution to the Bariatric Surgery Registry (BSR*) where data from our work with patients is fed into the BSR to further their research work.

Recent statistics from BSR demonstrate that the team approach works, not only with short term results, but with medium to long term success as well.

The graphs below compare Dr Lockie's data with the comparable average of all BSR contributors for a four year period after surgery.

Favourable Weight Loss Comparison

Excess weight loss  Dr Lockie Vs national average
Figure 1: Percentage Loss of Excess Weight of Dr Lockie's Patients vs BSR Average

 

Total Weight Loss Dr Lockie Vs All BSR contributorsFigure 2: Percentage Loss of Total Weight of Dr Lockie's Patients vs BSR Average

These graphs clearly demonstrate our patients are less likely to regain weight, even years after the surgery.

Our Integrated Approach to Weight Loss Works

We believe that it is the integrated team approach, working with a network of specialists who understand metabolic surgery, which ultimately provides our patients with maximum health benefits.

We pride ourselves on delivering expert care for excellent results and are grateful to our patients who have responded well to our approach.

If you interested in being part of the team approach to weight-loss, book in for a free consultation here when you can find out how we work and what to expect.

* Dr Lockie has been awarded Leading Contributor status of the BSR for the past 4 years. Read more here.

Information and Strategies to Cope With Uncertainty

9th April 2020

Our pyschologist, Dr Michelle Van Vuuren, has been very concerned and mindful of the stresses that the Covid-19 epidemic has placed on the general population and in particular, those who have or had issues with body weight.

She has written a letter to our clients with some information on how these stresses can play out on an indivual basis and provides some strategies to help us get through this crisis.

We post it here to share with anyone who might be interested to find out more about how uncertainty can cause stress, and what we can do to improve matters.

Please feel free to share this page as necessary.

Please click here to view the letter on coping with uncertainty and strategies to lower stress and avoid bad eating habits.

How Your Weight Affects Your COVID-19 Risk

3rd April 2020

As you probably already know, some people are thought to be at greater risk from the coronavirus. Older people and those with pre-existing conditions like diabetes or asthma are known to be more vulnerable to the disease and have been urged to take extra care.

People most severely affected by COVID-19 end up in the intensive care unit (ICU). Yes, age and pre-existing conditions certainly play a part in that. But there’s another factor that unites the vast majority of COVID-19 patients in ICU. It’s their weight.

More Likely to Need Intensive Care

The UK’s Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre released a report on 19 March. They found that approx. 70% of coronavirus patients admitted to intensive care units (ICU) in the UK were overweight or obese.

Interestingly, the numbers were spread fairly evenly across these categories. Of the patients studied, 31.6% were overweight (BMI 25-29) and 32.8% were obese (BMI 30-35).

Put another way, if you’re overweight or obese and you develop COVID-19, you are much more likely to be in the category of patients who develop breathing difficulties and need to be treated in ICU.

Why is that?

Why Being Overweight Makes You More Susceptible to COVID-19

When you get beyond a healthy weight, your body is always dealing with the impact of those extra kilos. It takes more effort just to function, and that can weaken your system overall.

There are three main ways that being overweight or obese may make you more susceptible to COVID-19.

1. Weakening Your Immune System

Obesity can put your body in a state of chronic inflammation that weakens your immune system. That’s not good news when you’re trying to protect yourself from a highly contagious disease.

2. Placing Extra Stress on Your Lungs

Being overweight or obese disrupts normal breathing. There is extra fat inside your body that makes your breathing muscles weaker and squashes your lungs, meaning they can’t hold as much air.

If you’re heavier than you should be, you’ve probably noticed times when it’s harder to breathe. Huffing and puffing when you’re walking or snoring while you’re sleeping are just some of the examples of how your weight makes your lungs work harder.

Patients admitted to ICU due to COVID-19 complications are there because they need help to breathe. It’s perhaps not surprising that overweight or obese people account for most of these patients in the UK. If your lungs are already struggling due to your weight, then they are less able to cope with additional pressures like the coronavirus.

3 Increasing Your Risk of Other Illnesses

As you probably already know, being overweight or obese puts you at higher risk of many other health conditions, including diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular problems.

If you’re overweight or obese and living with a chronic condition, you’re now in two high-risk categories for COVID-19.

What Can You Do?

Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to improve your health and strengthen your immune system while observing social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

We recommend that you:

  1. Go for a daily walk in your local streets or green spaces. This beneficial exercise can help to reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar levels, ward off heart disease and combat stress and anxiety. And that time outdoors is all the more precious when you’re spending the rest of your day at home.

  2. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies can boost your immune function because they contain vital nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

  3. Eat less fat. Most of your immune system lives in your gut and a high-fat diet can weaken the gut microbes that help your immunity.

  4. If you’re buying packaged foods, read the label carefully.

  5. If you smoke, stop. Get whatever help you need to do so.

  6. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

  7. Try to avoid infections by washing your hands regularly and by cooking food thoroughly

  8. Consider getting this season’s flu jab. It won’t protect you from COVID-19 but it will help prevent influenza, which is a severe respiratory disease that can weaken your system.

  9. Sleep well. It’s nature’s great restorer.

  10. Get help to lose weight. (That’s where we come in.)

How Can We Help?

We can help you use this time to lose weight and reduce your risk of a bad outcome from COVID-19.

During normal times, we offer weight-loss surgerieswhich have assisted many people to live a lighter, healthier life.

There’s always a process involved in that – we never rush straight into an operating theatre. We meet you, learn about you, and enrol you in a pre-surgery weight-loss program that includes peer support. Apart from the surgery, we can do all of that during the lockdown period.

This is a great time to get into healthier habits. Get started now with a free online consultation with our nurse, Shirley Lockie. .

Savings on Insurance Premiums Could Help Pay for Bariatric Procedures

20th March 2020

I attended a recent Bariatric Conference and one of the interesting discussions was  the impact of weight and co-morbidities on insurance premiums.

Insurance Loadings for High BMI and Diabetes

The presenter, a financial adviser, having spoken to various insurance underwriters, showed data demonstrating that, depending on BMI and co-morbidities, insurance premiums are loaded by a minimum of 50% and up to 200%.  The minimum loading for diabetics is automatically 50% and if an individual is over 50 years of age and obese their insurance premiums increase very substantially.

Change in BMI Co-Morbities and Weight Loss Reduces Insurance Loading

 Following bariatric surgery, after 12 months, if there has been significant weight loss or a change in co-morbidities, then the loadings are reduced by 50% and again, in a further 12 months, if the weight loss is still sustained the loadings are further reduced.

Savings Can Be Significant

The presenter demonstrated that the saving in premiums, over a three year period, for an individual over 50 years of age, where more than enough to cover the costs of bariatric surgery even as an uninsured patient.   

There was also talk of a specific insurance policy, called “active life” insurance policy from Zurich.  This policy will pay out for a large number of medical reasons but one area of interest was for prolonged hospitalisation.  So, if someone has surgery for whatever condition and has complications and needs to stay in hospital for several weeks, this policy will pay out very quickly and does not have a lot of the conditions attached to the more traditional trauma and permanent disability insurance. However, the policy does have to be in place for 12 months before an elective procedure.

Take Advantage of Our No-Obligation Consultation.

To find out more about possible bariatric procedures to assist with weight loss and reduce co-morbidities, please book a free, no-obligation consultation with our Perioperative Nurse Surgical Assistant, Shirley Lockie, to answer questions and discuss your options.

https://liveedit.drphillockie.com.au/infopage/request-a-free-consultation-with-shirley-lockie

What losing 40kg taught me about change (Greg, 50)

18th March 2020

The following article has been reproduced with the kind permission of St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital publishers of Best Practice Magazine.

This is Greg's Journey

Before my surgery, with the help of the team I worked through my problems with food, my emotional food triggers, and then worked out my big ‘why’ for surgery now. We explored food plans and options as well as discussing the experience of what to expect physically post-surgery.

Now looking back, the change process kept my ‘why’ at the forefront, and helped me think through potential problems and coping strategies. The team repeatedly followed up to check that my thinking was still on track and embedded over a number of weeks, and made sure that I clearly knew the process and potential areas of failure.

They worked on getting things right over many weeks before the actual event, and not just a quick one week hit (like the fat camp). Mental rehearsal and pre-emptive trouble-shooting is an intensely powerful tool in change.

Anyone who says weight loss surgery is easy, is talking out of their hat. It is the second hardest thing I have done in life, after parenthood. It is a whole of life, irreversible change and is simply a tool rather than a total solution. Yes, you can still go back to pre-weight if you are not careful and try and ‘game’ the system.

What I have found by losing 40kgs is that effective change is a blend of many things as follows:

  • Start with hope;
  • An expert support team is vital (remember, it may take many attempts to find the right team);
  • Know your ’why’ and keep that front and center;
  • Mentally rehearse the change process by thinking through all the steps and processes;
  • Pre-emptive trouble-shooting matters. By working through potential pitfalls and how to deal with them before they kick in, you minimise failure;
  • Find a change buddy for the early days;
  • Get the support of your immediate family and friends before you start;
  • Have unpleasant consequences for mistakes while you are learning;
  • Set reminders to keep your actions on track and to reflect your new way of thinking and acting;
  • Ensure you have daily monitoring and take corrective action when the alert is triggered;
  • Set small goals and celebrate each win.

 

AHPRA disclaimer

*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

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