Weighing it up
Weighing it up

Unlike lots of plastic surgery, weight-loss procedures are focused first and foremost on improving a patient's long-term physical health.

Cosmetic benefits from weight-loss procedures are seen by many bariatric surgeons performing them as an added bonus - an extra boost of confidence for those undergoing surgery - but are not the highest priority.

Perhaps the most well-known weight-loss procedure is gastric banding - James Packer and Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey are both known to have had these procedures with positive results - but there are also other effective ways to lose weight through surgery, depending on the individual.

Who's eligible?

If you're considering having a weight-loss procedure, it's of utmost importance that you've tried other ways to lose weight first.

"Patients must have tried non-surgical weight loss prior to considering surgery," Laparoscopic obesity surgeon Kevin Dolan says.

Your BMI, or body mass index, must also be at 30 or above - that's a 175cm, or 5"7 female, weighing about 90kg.

What are the options?

Gastric banding

This procedure sees a small "pouch" formed at the top of the stomach to restrict the amount of food a person can eat before feeling full.

Pros and cons:
It's safe, adjustable and is a reversible operation - but some surgeons say it's been taken over by the effectiveness of the sleeve gastrectomy in terms of better weight loss.

Hospital time: Day case.

Sleeve gastrectomy

In this operation, 80 per cent of the stomach is removed - making the patient feel full on small amounts of food and decreasing their hunger levels.

Pros and cons: It's more effective for losing weight than a band, with excess weight loss at an average of 80 per cent but is an irreversible and arguably more risky operation.

Hospital time: Three days.

Less common procedures include the gastric bypass and intra-gastric balloon.

Gastric bypass

This operation makes the stomach smaller by bypassing part of the intestines - meaning patients don't digest or absorb all the food they consume.

Pros and cons: This procedure is a good fallback option if patients have already had other operations that haven't worked for them. It's the riskiest procedure though, and patients will have potential diarrhoea following the operation.

"I tend to view bypass as a revisional option for cases where either the sleeve is not appropriate or has failed - I don't do it as my first option," Bariatric surgeon Leon Cohen says.

Hospital time: Four days.

Intra-gastric balloon

This procedure sees a balloon being blown up inside the stomach, about 600ml in volume, and left there for six months.

Pros and cons: The balloon can be a great kick-start to losing weight organically - but it's not covered by insurance as it's removable.

Hospital time: Day case.

Why do it?

Weight-loss procedures have many physical and mental benefits for patients.

"When people get obese, they tend to get co-morbidities such as high blood pressure, sleep apnoea or infertility in women," Laparoscopic surgeon Stephen Watson says.

"There can also be psychological issues such as being depressed about their weight."

The West Australian

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