Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to common questions related to weight loss surgery.

Successful surgery is not only defined by the amount of weight you lose. Other factors need to be taken into account including improvements in health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnoea. You also need to consider quality of life issues such as energy levels and being able to perform everyday tasks. It is a combination of these factors which determines overall "success".

How much you lose will depend on your starting weight and BMI. Surgery can never guarantee you will lose all the extra weight you are carrying, to return you to a normal BMI. On average, you will lose between 60 – 80% of the extra weight you are carrying, but results will vary.

Weight loss surgery can never guarantee all your health problems will resolve.

Outcomes range from no change, through to improvement (such as a reduction in the amount of medications taken) or remission (stopping all medications). We cannot say that we "cure" any condition. The outcomes are different for each individual.

Most of your weight will come off in the first 6 to 12 months after surgery. Everyone loses weight at a different rate. Weight loss occurs in a step-wise rather than in a linear fashion. Your weight loss may "stall", where your weight may not change for many days. Don’t panic. You will lose weight.

Yes, this is not an issue. Our dietitian will provide a suitable dietary plan which will include vegetables high in protein.

Optifast is a very low calorie diet (VLCD) protein shake. It is important to take 2 to 4 weeks before your surgery (depending on your BMI) to help reduce the size of your liver, and make the surgery easier. If you are lactose intolerant, our dietitian will provide you an alternative pre-operative VLCD.

Even though the surgery is minimally invasive, you will still have a small amount of abdominal pain which may last for a couple of weeks after surgery, particularly when you are mobilising. You will be discharged on several types of pain killers but simple analgesia, such as paracetamol is usually all that is required.

On the day of surgery, you will be allowed to have sips of water only. From day 1 to week 3, you will be on a liquid and pureed diet. You will then transition to a soft diet from weeks 3 to 6. At week 6, you can have normal foods. You will have to train yourself to chew well and eat slowly. Everyone will transition through these stages differently. Our dietitian will provide you with suggested foods to eat and drink throughout these stages.

Attempting to eat solid foods too early may put your stomach at risk during the period of healing. It is important that you follow your dietary plan. However, there is nothing else you can do physically which can damage your new stomach. Exercise will not damage your stomach.

We suggest taking a minimum of 2 weeks to recover from your surgery. During this time, you will need to focus on your fluid intake, aiming to drink approximately 1500ml of fluid a day. You will also be allowed to have pureed foods. You should be gently mobilising, by going for small walks.

It may take a week or more after your surgery before your bowels start to move and the first one may be difficult. It is important to keep well hydrated and maintain your fluid intake. You will be prescribed laxatives to help. Your bowel motion frequency after surgery may be different to that pre-operatively.

After 4 weeks, you should be able to do normal activities such as going to the gym, running, or swimming. As a general rule, if the activity you are doing hurts, then don’t do it.
Regardless of how much exercise you do, it will not damage your stomach operation in any way.

When you can comfortably get in and out of a car, and are able to make an emergency stop, you can return to driving. Usually this is within 1-2 weeks. However, we leave it up to you to use your good judgement.

We suggest no alcohol for the first 3 months after surgery. After that, you can have small volumes, infrequently, perhaps for special occasions. But remember, drinking alcohol means ingesting excess calories, can lead to dehydration, and can increase hunger. It is also important to note that your blood alcohol levels may be more elevated when compared to before surgery, therefore we recommend not to drive after drinking, even after 1 standard drink.

People will lose some hair to varying degrees. There are no specific products available that will reduce hair loss. It is important to ensure you maintain good protein intake. The hair loss will recover.

Your cycle can be affected in the first few months after surgery. In time, your cycle will eventually return to normal. However, if you are concerned, please consult with your family doctor.

There is limited evidence in the literature regarding the effectiveness of the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) after bariatric surgery. The general consensus with regards to the gastric sleeve is that the OCP is probably OK but cannot guarantee 100% effectiveness. The OCP after gastric bypass is probably less effective due to less absorption in the small bowel. Our recommendation for all bariatric procedures is to use barrier forms (i.e condoms) or non-oral contraceptive methods (e.g. IUCD or injection).

We recommend avoiding pregnancy within 18 months of your operation, as there is rapid weight loss and the potential for nutritional deficiencies to both you and your baby.

We recommend barrier methods of contraception rather than relying on the oral contraceptive pill, which may not work.

If you do become pregnant during this period, please inform us and your family doctor as soon as possible.
You will need an obstetrician to give you specialist advice. You will also need additional nutritional supplementation, monitoring of weight and foetal development, regular blood tests, and screening for gestational diabetes.

Formula for feeding may be required as exclusive breastfeeding may not be possible.

This is always difficult to know. As a general rule, you should wait at least 2 years after your surgery and assess the excess skin. A referral can be made to a plastic surgeon at that time if you would like some areas improved.

There are several options to assist in funding your surgery. Some health insurers may provide assistance towards the cost of your surgery. KiwiSaver may be accessible to some people in certain circumstances. You may be able to obtain a personal loan through companies such as Novamed. We can provide a letter of support if required.

There are appropriately qualified and credentialed surgeons who perform weight loss surgery both in NZ and overseas.

We understand the main reason for going overseas is that the package deals appear to be more affordable.

Follow-up is important. Providing surgery without follow-up is not good practice and may affect your long term results.

We suggest no matter where you have your surgery, your package should include:

- a choice of weight loss operations, tailoring the operation to your specific needs

- access to your surgeon post-operatively

- follow-up for at least 2 years with your bariatric team

- monitoring for nutritional and clinical complications

It is important you check that your surgeon has the appropriate qualifications and expertise. You also need to factor in what is and what isn't being offered in the package deals both here and overseas when making a financial investment towards your health.

You should consider the following costs: pre-surgical - flights, accommodation, consultations; surgical - surgeon fee, anaesthetist fee, hospital fee; post-surgical - follow-up with dietitian and clinicians, as well as access to your surgeon; additional extras.

The use of testimonials can create unrealistic expectations of outcomes. As per the “Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) Statement on advertising (clause 13)”, Discover Weight Loss does not include testimonials in any of its advertising.

See MCNZ Statement on Advertising: