The Ethics of Affordable Weight Loss Surgery – by Dr Jorrie Jordaan

The Ethics of Affordable Weight Loss Surgery – by Dr Jorrie Jordaan

Low cost bariatric surgery is a contentious issue, to say the least.

While performing the surgery itself can be a technically simple task, that is not a reason to perform it indiscriminately.

It is only ethical to perform elective surgery on patients when you are fairly certain that you are able to get the patient through the procedure safely and that they will achieve significant long-term benefit.

Bariatric patients are, by definition, typically a high-risk surgical population. It’s the medical and multi-disciplinary pre-operative assessment, the peri-operative management and the long-term support and care that make the difference and ensures that we can be confident that the surgery is able to be performed safely and provide good long-term outcomes.

Having been an Upper GI surgeon for over 20 years, and directly involved in bariatric surgery for 10 years, I was not initially in favour of giving patients what is in essence a controlled gastrointestinal dysfunction, without engaging in comprehensive individualised medical, psychological and dietary assessment pre-operatively and providing structured intensive investigation and management for 12 months post-operatively and then ongoing specialist follow-up annually. This is the program on which we have built our practice and our reputation for achieving safety profiles and long-term weight loss results far above the national average (as measured by independent audit).

Yet, for those who need it most, accessing a high-quality bariatric program that includes multi-disciplinary support and long-term follow up may not be financially feasible, despite being the most effective treatment available. And despite the proven safety and efficacy of bariatric surgery, it is not typically a publicly funded procedure in Australia.

The rise of low cost, low service bariatric surgery practices has identified a growing need for an affordable surgical option.

Until now, there has not been a bariatric program specifically designed to provide the assessment and support required to safely operate on bariatric patients and give excellent sustained results, while still being affordable for the population that needs it most.

At the Surgical Weight Loss Centre, we have created a low cost Streamlined Sleeve program designed to meet that need. The key is to maximise accessibility and minimise the out-of-pocket expenses, without compromising our high standard of care.

From a purely surgical point of view a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is a quick and simple operation, with a safety profile similar to a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. It provides the patient with a good eating quality of life coupled with a very low risk of developing nutritional deficiencies. When performed at our unit, it provides excellent weight loss of 85% excess weight loss at 12 months (as measured by independent audit), compared to the national average of 55% excess weight loss.

Medicare rebates are applied to as many of the necessary investigations as possible, and efficiencies are sought in all areas to contain the cost base. The result is a much needed, high quality obesity care program that will complement the services already available at the Surgical Weight Loss Centre.

To find out more contact our rooms on 07 5556 8888 to make an appointment.