Weightloss Surgery

Reporter: Lynda Kinkade

It is the latest weapon for the largest of problems. It's similar to lap band surgery but rather than the stomach being banded, the relatively new procedure, called a sleeve gastrectomy, removes almost 75%stomach -- forever.

"Some people choose sleeve gastrectomy more because it is somewhat lower maintenance than gastric banding -- no adjustments to be made", said Dr. Ahmad Aly from Darebin Weightloss Surgery.

According to Dr Aly, the results are also much more impressive. "On average a patient with sleeve gastrectomy seems to loose around 65% to 70% excess weight. Gastric banding averages 50-60% excess weight loss", Dr. Aly said.

Mother of two Kelly Sanguentti has battled obesity most of her adult life. She feared losing her life in the same way her Dad lost his. "I lost my dad at the same age I am now and I didn't want to go down that road. I wanted to make a healthy change -- all the exercise and eating that I tried to make just weren't working", Kelly said.

Having worked as a receptionist at Dr Aly's surgery., she knew her options. "I wanted something that was going to be forever", she said.

Before the surgery Kelly Sanguenitti weighed 130 kilos -- six months later she's down to 98 kilos "I started at a 26 around Christmas and to go shopping yesterday was a pure delight. I thought I'd try a pair of size 16 pants, thinking no way would they fit, thinking how long would it be before they do fit. So I did a high 5 to myself in the shop - it was very exciting", Kelly said.

But it's not just the operation that's made this a success. "I'm at the gym 3-4 times a week -- I do boxing once a week and have been seeing a personal trainer", Kelly said.

The number of Australians becoming obese is staggering. A decade ago there were 500 weight loss operations performed in a year -- now there is 18,000. A small number of those are sleeve gastectomy but, as people hear of it's benefits, it's fast becoming the surgery of choice.

Both verging on becoming morbidly obese, Kimberlie and Steve Gyaw decided they needed drastic action. Kim said, " have struggled with my weight forever. Every time I lost all the weight -- I might lose 40kilos -- you'd put on double".

Before the surgery Kimberlie weighed 158 kilos --12 months later she's 94. Stephen tipped the scales at 173 kilograms before surgery -- a year later he's 124. "I wanted to get the weight down while I was still young and not have to face any of these health issues when I got older", Stephen said.

So why did they op for a sleeve gastectomy? "It was a harder decision for me to make. I thought seriously I've got to lose this weight for the rest of my life and be a healthy weight", Stephen said.

A smaller stomach means much smaller portions.. "A number have been diabetic or pre-diabetic and we've seen that disease in particular melt away with their weight loss. We've seen blood pressure, sleep apnoea, high blood pressure -- all of these illnesses -- changed dramatically", Dr. Aly said.

As with any operation, there are side-effects. "This one has potential for leak or bleeding from the staple line or bleeding from that area. Happily its quit uncommon, probably 1% or less", Dr. Aly said.

If you are morbidly obese you can go on a waiting list to have the surgery covered by Medicare -- the out-of-pocket costs are about $4000. Privately, with no wait, it'll cost about $10,000. "The surgery is a tool to help you be successful, but it's a lot of work", Kim said.

For more information on the surgery visit the website at: