No miracle cure, but weight loss surgery can help change lives

A series of weight loss surgeries over four years has seen a Bendigo woman lose nearly half her body weight and reclaim her life.

The 164cm-tall woman lost 49kg, down from 107kg in 2012.

Jinie Fox is one of a growing number of Australians pursuing bariatric surgery, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recently finding admissions to hospital for weight loss procedures rising from 22,700 to 9,300 in the decade to 2014-15.

Women made up about 79 per cent of admissions.

“It’s changed my life for the better, even with the problems I’ve had with surgeries. It gave me back my life. I used to be on arthritis medication for my feet and ankles. Once I started losing the weight I didn’t have that pain,” Jinie said.

Jinie still got occasional pain in parts of her body, but that was nothing compared to what she used to feel.

She rediscovered bush walking and found joy in acts that required standing for long periods, including watching this year’s Easter Torchlight Procession.

Returning to the operating table

Of Australia’s weight loss surgeries in the past decade, 21 per cent were adjustments, revisions, removals or similar procedures.

Jinie was one of those who returned for more surgeries.

Her initial 2012 gastric surgery proved too restrictive. While she lost 30 kg, her diet was too restrained. Even fruits and vegetables were off limits.

“I got a bit miserable with that, so I had it (taken out) and in April 2015 had a sleeve put in,” she said.

Jinie is now considering another surgery to remove a minimiser ring – which she describes as similar to a loose cable tie – around the sleeve after noticing occasional problems when she ate too fast.

Surgery not a miracle cure

Jinie advised those thinking of weight loss surgery they needed to do their homework thoroughly before going under the knife.

“Surgery is a tool, not a miracle cure,” she said.

“There are people who live on Coca-Cola, drink too much alcohol or eat too much chocolate. We call those things ‘sliders’ because they slide right through,” she said.

“If you continue eating those things after the operation you can still put on weight.”

Jinie had heard of people who came to regret their surgery because of the toll it could take on their diet or their body. 

However, she, and most of the patients she had heard of, never looked back.