Weight loss surgery boom in WA

Weight loss surgery boom in Western Australia

Perth is becoming Australia’s weight loss surgery capital, with 22 per cent of the nation’s gastric band, gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery procedures are carried out

The popularity of weight loss surgery has been steadily rising in Australia, and high profile success stories include billionaire James Packer, who lost 35kg after his 2011 gastric band surgery, and Treasurer Joe Hockey, who shed more than 30kg of his 138kg after gastric sleeve surgery in 2012.

Figures from the Medical Benefits Schedule shows 2294 gastric sleeves were done in the first quarter of this year, almost 500 of them in WA. In the same period, 1002 gastric bands were fitted, 216 of them in WA.

University of WA professor of surgical education Jeff Hamdorf said WA was “punching well above its weight”, carrying out about half the number of operations done in NSW, which probably reflected the State’s affluence.

He said local bariatric surgeons had low rates of complications and good results but many patients went into the procedure blase about the risks and with unrealistic goals.

“The sleeve is a very popular procedure, but people need to know it’s a really big operation, and I’m astounded by people who casually say ‘I’m just having a gastric sleeve’,” he said.

“It’s having 85 to 90 per cent of your stomach removed, which is why the weight loss is so stunning in the first few months.”

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