ONE of the world’s leading bariatric surgeons has guided Ballarat colleagues through a stomach reduction operation.
New Zealand surgeon David Schroeder mentored Ballarat staff while they performed the gastric bypass on a patient on Thursday.
Mr Schroeder has performed more than 1700 bariatric pocedures and, according to his Ballarat counterparts, knows the best practice.
Mr Schroeder said he would speak to the Ballarat patient before their surgery and educate them about what they should be eating immediately after the procedure.
The operation works by isolating a main section of the stomach so it is no longer used for digestion.
A smaller section of stomach is used for that purpose, causing patients to be less hungry.
Mr Schroeder said the surgery was for “very big people” who were not able to lose weight.
“Being seriously overweight causes a lot of problems – social, medical, physical,” he said.
“This surgery is for people who have tried to lose weight and not succeeded.
“It’s not just about willpower. They can’t lose weight because of lots of things, whether it be physiology, psychology or our ‘obesogenic’ society.”
Mr Schroeder said the operation physically changed the stomach, but changes to the brain and people’s thinking also somehow occurred.
He said anyone battling obesity should visit their general practitioner to sort out any medical problems before considering surgery.
“It’s an operation that enables people to do what they need to do,” he said.
St John of God bariatric surgeons Stuart Eaton and David Deutscher have performed hundreds of bariatric procedures in Ballarat, 15 of which were bypass cases.
Mr Eaton said obesity was a huge national problem, and especially for Ballarat.
“Surgery can’t fix the country’s weight problem, but it can help some who weight loss hasn’t worked for before,” he said.
Bariatric surgery is only available in private hospitals, with Ballarat servicing much of the western region of Victoria.
St John of God Ballarat chief executive officer Michael Krieg said as obesity was an issue in the community, it was important for St John’s to offer bariatric services.