Bariatric Surgery

What is bariatric surgery?
Surgery for weight loss is more than just a procedure. It is a lifelong commitment, and requires an extensive qualification process. Preparation for the surgery requires support from our full team of professionals including doctors, surgeons, dieticians, physiatrists, administrative staff and support group consultants.

Do I qualify for surgery?
It is important to consider the hard work, lifestyle changes and motivation it requires to undergo bariatric surgery and achieve healthy weight loss. The surgery acts as an aid in achieving lasting results in treating obesity, but it is not without risk, discomfort and cost. This type of surgery is therefore reserved for patients with severe obesity, and who are at risk as a result.

To be considered for bariatric surgery or gastric bypass, you will generally be referred to a bariatric surgeon by your GP. To qualify as a suitable candidate, your Body Mass Index (BMI) is measured as follows:

  • Measure height in metres and weight in kg
  • Divide your height squared into your weight in kg

If your BMI is 40 or above, you qualify for surgery, as long as there are no contraindications.

How do I make an appointment?
In order to make an appointment, you will need to consult with all the members of the bariatric team including:

  • Bariatric surgeon Dr Etienne Swanepoel (021 975 2594)
  • Bariatric dietician Judy Kotze (021 975 2336)

You will also need to get in touch with a number of other health professionals. Please ask our administrative staff for details.

Please contact your medical aid to check what your scheme does and does not cover.

How do I prepare for surgery?
After a comprehensive consultation with our surgeon, you will undergo a pre–operative history and physical evaluation, as well as psychological clearance and nutritional evaluation.

It is necessary to lose some weight before the surgery in order to optimize the results of the procedure. Patients are also asked to stop taking aspirin and non–steroidal anti–inflammatory drugs and blood thinners. Speak to your doctor about adjusting your intake of any other medications. It is essential that smokers quit four to six weeks before the procedure.

How does the surgery work?
You will be asked to abstain from food and liquid the evening before the surgery. On the day of the procedure you will be given a surgical gown to wear, and you will be taken to pre–operative nursing unit where an IV line will be inserted. You will then be taken to the operating room, and given general anesthesia.

During the procedure, your surgeon will make five to seven small incisions, and insert instruments though them. Your abdomen will be filled with gas to allow your surgeon to view the abdominal cavity. A small camera will be inserted into one of the tubes, so your surgeon will be able to view images on a monitor in the operating room.

The stomach will be divided and separated, and a small pouch is created at the top of the stomach. The small intestine is attached to the new pouch, creating a new digestive tract.

What lifestyle changes are necessary after surgery?
After the procedure, it is very important to adhere to the recommended dietary guidelines, as the modifications made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes to your eating habits.

Joining a support group will provide social and emotional support from others who have undergone obesity surgery. For more information visit our Bariatric Surgery Support Group.