Bendigo hospitals prepare as nation sees dramatic surge in weight loss surgeries

NEW SERVICES: Bendigo hospitals prepare as admissions for weight loss surgery surge across Australia.
NEW SERVICES: Bendigo hospitals prepare as admissions for weight loss surgery surge across Australia.

New data shows Australian hospital admissions for weight loss surgery have more than doubled in ten years, with one local surgeon saying many Bendigonians have been forced to travel down to Melbourne for procedures.

Bendigo hospitals are preparing as demand increases. A spokeswoman said Bendigo Hospital was considering offering bariatric surgeries “in the future”. 

St John of God’s recent refurbishment included space general surgeon Janine Arnold would use for her first laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy next week.

“That’s the new and improved stomach stapling. It’s where you remove most of the stomach and leave them (patients) with a thin tube so that they can’t eat as much food,” she said.

Dr Arnold said she was also training to perform other weight loss surgeries.

“We’ve got a lot of people who are obese in Bendigo. And they are either obese, with a (body mass index) over 40 or they have a BMI over 35 and they have health problems like diabetes, hypertension or sleep apnea,” she said.

“Their GPs are doing a lot more proactive healthcare … and so a lot of patients are being referred down to Melbourne for bariatric surgery.”

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found released in late-May found in the ten years to 2014-15 there were 22,700 Australian hospital admissions for weight loss surgery in 2014-15, up from 9,300 in 2005-06.

AIWH spokeswoman Jenny Hargreaves said that in the ten years to 2014-15, admissions for weight loss surgery increased increased two-fold in private hospitals and three-fold in their public counterparts.

The majority (79%) of weight loss surgery involved an initial or primary procedure, while adjustments, revisions, removals and other procedures represented 21%.

Dr Arnold said, barring complications during surgery, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy patients could lose weight.

“Their quality of life will improve, their diabetes can be cured, their hypertension and sleep apnea can be cured,” she said.

Patients still had to be motivated, because they could get lots of calories through thick shakes or liquefying sweets.

Dr Arnold required patients to undergo a psychologist and dietician’s assessment before surgery, with help post-op to deal with a dramatically altered diet.