If weight loss was easy nobody would be obese. Unfortunately it isn’t and we are. The incidence of adult obesity in the UK in 2016 is 25%. In the North East of England it is nearer 40-45%.

Why can’t we just eat healthier and do some exercise? Good question. Why can’t we? We can all do it initially but we lose heart, see no results and then put weight on with a vengeance. The good intentions of a new diet, a new piece of exercise equipment and a promise to cut down on junk food, sweets and alcohol. All wishful thinking. Is your bike just gathering dust in your garage?

Being obese effects every thing that makes you YOU! Physically (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis), mentally (depression), socially (don’t want to go out, too embarrassed), sexually (no physical relationships, infertility) and we know all too well obese people don’t live long. What help is out there?

The only long term solution to obesity is surgery. This is fact. Best diets, exercise programs and drugs only work for some. We don’t have a magic wand and there are no quick fixes but for suitable people who are willing to make significant lifestyle changes and work with their surgeries there is hope.

We have a dedicated team, the North East bariatric service  here to help you!

If you embark on the journey to come and see us don’t expect to be listed for your surgery the following week. A careful bariatric history will be taken. How does your weight affect you? Do you meet the national and international guidelines for weight loss surgery? Have you tried absolutely everything to lose weight before? Are you a volume or sweet eater? Do you snack? What are your expectations of surgery?

We need to exclude a medical cause of your weight gain so need to perform appropriate blood tests. We will screen you for sleep apnoea. You will then be seen by Amy our specialist bariatric dietitian. Her role isn’t just to tell you what to and what not to eat. You’ve heard this all before. She will help to go through your diet, explaining what is good and not so good and help plan meals by giving practical advice. Amy is also there to help with the preoperative diet and to educate you what is to be expected post operatively and of course your post operative care. Support is available every step of the way.

Some patient’s poor eating patterns are as a consequence of traumatic events they have endured as children or young adults. Eating becomes the sole comforter, the shield, the disguise to keep them out of harms way. At times of stress we all display different coping mechanisms. For some it’s anger others drinking for some violence and for our patients eating. The needs of such patients are best met initially by our specialist psychologist Matilda. When you are ready we will be ready.

You then are given time to put into place everything you have learnt with respect to your diet and behaviour. We encourage exercise but don’t expect you to join a gym. Anything you can do is better than doing nothing. Do you like swimming? When’s a quiet time to swim at your local pool? We will furnish you with as much information as possible both written and web based. You will have access to our supporters group to meet people both pre and post operation just like you.

Hopefully you can lose weight in the time given with all the help already offered. Your eating pattern prior to surgery and subsequent behavioural changes will determine what operation will work best for you. Options include a gastric balloon, gastric band, gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. Ten days prior to the surgery you will commence a special diet to reduce the size of your liver. This will make the key hole route of surgery more possible. All surgeries are performed by key hole but be aware in the interests of safety there is always a small chance you need a bigger incision. Surgeries are performed as a day case (band/balloon) or associated with a 1-2 day stay (bypass and sleeves)

The key to the best results is regular follow up. Your surgery is for life. We want to look after you and enjoy your weight loss with you. Ours is a multidisciplinary team with the expertise to look after every aspect of your care. Not all patients will be suitable for surgery but all can be helped by the service we offer.

Patients who are educated about their surgeries and work with them get the best results. At 2 years following your operation you would expect to loose on average 40-50% of your excess weight with a gastric band and 60-80% with  sleeve or  bypass. Successful weight loss is associated with the resolution of numerous medical problems including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnoea. Patients become more confident, get back into work and start living “normal” lives. Our results speak for themselves.

Sean Woodcock MBBS MS FRCS

Consultant Surgeon