Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to the most commonly asked questions. If your question is not answered below please ask using the form below.

Why lose weight?

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a chronic, relapsing, inflammatory disease that requires lifelong medical care. An adult with a BMI >30 is considered to have obesity.

Obesity affects almost every organ in your body and increases your risk of developing serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, liver and kidney disease, sleep apnoea, and osteoarthritis.

What is Obesity Weight Loss Surgery Melbourne
For additional information, check this Fact Sheet

How can Bariatric surgery help me?

When combined with a comprehensive treatment plan, bariatric surgery may often act as an effective tool to provide you with long term weight-loss and help you increase your quality of life. Bariatric surgery has been shown to improve or resolve many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Frequently, individuals who improve their weight find themselves taking less and less medications to treat their obesity-related conditions.

Ready to know more about weight loss surgery? Our Weight Loss Surgery page can answer some of your questions and help you to understand if weight loss surgery may be right for you. 
Check our Fact sheet for more details Here

Who is a candidate for Bariatric surgery?

The widely accepted criteria for Bariatric surgery include:

  1. BMI ≥ 40, or BMI ≥ 35 and with least one or more obesity-related co-morbidities such as type II diabetes (T2DM), hypertension, sleep apnea and other respiratory disorders, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, lipid abnormalities, gastrointestinal disorders, or heart disease.
  2. Inability to achieve a healthy weight loss sustained for a period of time with prior weight loss efforts

However, there is considerable flexibility in these guidelines according to the medical comorbidities and/or ethnicity.

How does weight loss surgery work?

Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, and duodenal switch work by changing the anatomy (or position) of the stomach and small intestines. This causes changes in appetite, satiety (feeling full), and metabolism (how the body burns calories).

Many of the hormonal signals that cause weight gain or inability to lose weight are affected by these procedures, and it becomes easier to lose weight. But this still requires a healthy diet and a good exercise routine. These procedures are tools to treat a chronic disease, and cannot work alone.

How long after metabolic and bariatric surgery will I have to be off work?

After surgery, most patients return to work in one or two weeks. You will have low energy for a while after surgery and may need to have some half days, or work every other day for your first week back. Your safety and the safety of others are extremely important – low energy can be dangerous in some jobs.

Will I have to take vitamins after bariatric surgery?

You will need to take a multivitamin for life.

You may need higher doses of certain vitamins or minerals, especially Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin D.

You will also need to have at least a yearly blood test. 

Will I lose my hair after bariatric surgery?

Some hair loss is common between 3 to 6 months following surgery. The reasons for this are not totally understood. Even if you take all recommended supplements, hair loss will be noticed until the follicles come back. Hair loss is almost always temporary. Adequate intake of protein, vitamins and minerals will help to ensure hair re-growth, and avoid longer term thinning.

When can I get pregnant after bariatric surgery?

Most women are much more fertile after surgery, even with moderate pre-op weight loss. Birth control pills do NOT work as well in patients who are overweight. Birth control pills are not very reliable during the time your weight is changing. For this reason, having another method of contraception is usually needed. Menstrual periods can be very irregular, and you can get pregnant when you least expect it!

Most groups recommend waiting 12-18 months after surgery before getting pregnant. This allows you to have maximum weight loss and reach a stable weight. You will also be very limited in your nutrient intake for quite some time after surgery.

When can I resume regular exercise?

Right away!

We highly recommend short walks whilst in the hospital. The key is to listen to your body. As you heal, begin to increase your exercise time and intensity.

Usually our exercise physiologist, Hayley is equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to provide structured exercise program. Please refer to the complementary Package offer for Exercise Physiology at Fix muscle performance.

How much weight will I lose?

Bariatric surgery is a “tool.” Weight loss success also depends on many other important factors, such as nutrition, exercise, and behaviour modification.

Once you have had surgery, your life will be forever different. Your body has now been modified to give you a better chance to overcome the underlying genetic, metabolic, environmental and lifestyle-induced state of obesity. These are powerful forces that created an unhealthy “weight set point” where your body has likely been stuck or hovering around, almost like a thermostat that is set too high. Your body is very effective at trying to maintain that weight and preventing change. As you lose weight, it is important to know that your body will try to establish a new set point. This leads to periodic plateaus in weight. This is normal and expected. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged when you reach a plateau, as these are normal and necessary parts of the weight-loss journey.

How often do I need to eat or drink?

Eat 3 meals a day + 1 protein snack/shake a day.

  • Meals must include protein (>50g/day), fruits and vegetables and some grains.
  • Continue with multi vitamin and mineral supplements

Drink plenty of water in between meals (>8 cups per day or >1.5L/day).

  • Avoid water 15-30 minutes before or after a meal.
  • Otherwise sip water or sugar free drinks throughout the day, avoid artificial sweeteners also.

 

 

Do I need to quit smoking before surgery?

We do not recommend surgery for smokers as they are prone to increased risk of anastomotic ulceration and leak.

 

 

Can I drink alcohol after surgery?

Alcohol is not recommended after bariatric surgery. Alcohol contains calories but minimal nutrition and will work against your weight loss goal. For example, wine contains twice than regular soft drink does. The absorption of alcohol changes with gastric bypass and gastric sleeve because an enzyme in the stomach which usually begins to digest alcohol is greatly reduced and you will reach the 0.05 with smaller volume.

 

What do I need to check with my private health fund?

For Private patients undergoing any operation in a private hospital do not have to pay any hospital expenses, as these are covered by their health fund. Some health funds will charge an excess which vary from $0 to $500 depending on your fund and level of cover. Often a 12-month waiting period will apply before you can use your health insurance.

It is recommended to check with the health fund whether or not you are covered for bariatric surgery. The common item numbers we use are:

  • Gastric Sleeve: 31575
  • Gastric Bypass: 31572
  • Gastric Band removal: 31585
  • Revision Surgery: 31584, 30724

You will be charged a single expense for the surgery. This fee covers:

  • Surgeon’s fee for the procedure
  • Follow up appointments for 12 months

There will be an out of pocket costs for the common weight loss procedures but if any additional consultations or operations are required from problems that may arise from the procedure, there will be no further charge.

Anaesthetic expenses

These will vary according to the type of operation, the length, and any medical co-morbidities you have. We have a close working relationship with a group of anaesthetists experienced in the specific medical problems of obesity. Your anaesthetist will contact you prior to the operation and you can discuss specifics of payments then. Often the charges will be of the range $600-$1800 which are partially rebatable.

Other costs

You will be required to commence a low calorie meal replacement diet (Optifast) for 2 weeks prior to the operation. You will need to pay for these meal replacements. They are generally available at a pharmacy and cost approximately $150 for 4 weeks.

If we arrange for you to see any other specialists prior to your surgery, such as endocrinologists, cardiologists, or respiratory physicians they may charge you for these visits.

There may be additional costs such as blood tests or x-rays required before or during your stay, depending on your health fund.

Reasons for GAP payments

Unfortunately, the full costs involved in providing quality medical care are not adequately covered by medicare. Most common surgical procedures performed by experienced surgeons in the private health system involve a gap payment. Weight loss surgery has even more costs, as multiple professionals are involved in your care.

Not Privately insured

If you do not have private insurance, the expenses of weight loss surgery will depend on the specific procedure, equipment used, the cost of the prosthesis, theatre fees, Surgeon’s fee, Assistant fee, Anaesthetist’s fee, Intensive care fees if this is required, the number of days spent as inpatient and the choice/location of hospital. You could expect to incur expenses of roughly $8000-9000 for one-night stay in hospital and $1000/day afterwards. You must also be aware that if there are any surgical or other complications during the admission, these would not be covered by any insurance providers, and the expected costs could dramatically escalate. We are happy to discuss your options if you do not have private insurance.

Access to superannuation

It is possible to access your superannuation to help pay for your weight loss surgery. This requires applying to The Department of Human Services for early release of their superannuation funds. You can find details of this on the Department of Human Services website

Refunds from the Australian Taxation Office

It is possible to claim a rebate form the ATO when you submit your end of year tax return. Weight loss procedures qualify for the medical expenses safety net. If the net total of all of your medical expenses for the financial year exceed $2120, you can claim a tax offset of 20% of your net medical expenses over $2120. This is not means tested and there is no limit on the amount you can claim.

For example:

If your total out of pocket expense is $5000: You may get a tax rebate of $576

($5000-$2120) X 20% = $576 you can claim back as a rebate.

Check with your accountant if this applies to you.

 

I don't have private health insurance can I still have surgery?

Yes, you can still have surgery.  Patients can choose to either self fund through their own means or access their superannuation through  the ATO website. This requires patients to apply via the ATO and MyGov websites requesting an early release of funds. Patients will need supporting letters and documentation that our practice can supply to help with that process. You will also need support letter from your GP.

Please speak to our Practice Manager who will advise and assist you with any queries.

What are the costs?

                                   Weight loss surgery costs and associated fees are made up of several components:

  •     Professional fees charged by the surgeon, anaesthetist and surgeon assistants
  •     Hospital charges for bed stay
  •     Hospital charges for operating theatre session
  •     Equipment used in the operating theatre session.

Patients with an appropriate level of private health insurance cover will find most hospital and equipment charges will incur a “no gap” fee. The out of pocket expenses for insured patients relate mostly to professional and clinic fees charged by the surgeon, anaesthetist and their assistants.

Occasionally, in your operation, there may be certain equipment used which is “non-rebateable,” such as the lap band device.

INSURED

Most health funds cover bariatric (weight-loss) surgery, however you will usually need to be in a high level of cover. To check, simply contact your health fund and quote the relative surgery “item numbers” listed below.

Sleeve Gastrectomy     Item No. 31575
Gastric Band                    Item No. 31585
Gastric Bypass                Item No. 31572
Dduodenal switch        Item No. 31581

Revisional Surgery
Band to Sleeve      Item No. 31584 & 31575
Band to Bypass     Item No. 31584 & 31572

UNINSURED

If you are NOT INSURED for weight loss surgery, you still have the option to either upgrade your level of insurance so you are covered or find a new insurer that will provide the appropriate cover. In most cases, the insurance company will apply a waiting period of 12 months to qualify you for surgery.

Self funded or non-insured patients have the option of accessing funds through super annuation or a variety of other methods. Please contact us for further help and advice.

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Resources

Gastric Sleeve

Gastric Bypass X-Roux-Y

Gastric Bypass Mini

Gastric Ballon

Duodenal Switch

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What Our Patients Say

Cam Kervin
Cam Kervin
11/04/2024
I found the whole process very informative which helped me to choose the right weight loss surgery for me. From the ever helpful Marianne keeping me up to date on the process and Mo Atalla gave me all the info I needed to make an informed decisions. I could not recommend BetterLife surgery enough.
Franco Gargiulo
Franco Gargiulo
08/04/2024
The attention of Mr Atalla and Marianne was excellent, my operation was a success, I definitely recommend this clinic
Melissa Carson
Melissa Carson
26/03/2024
Mo and his team have changed my life forever. Dealing with me in a holistic way when looking at the reasons behind my weight gain and life long struggles has been amazing. Other surgeons saw me as $$ only. My dietician could have given more tips earlier throughout my journey but Mo’s nursing team were amazing and stepped in to help. Marianne is always on the ball coordinating all aspects of my care. 32kgs down and lost forever and hoping another 10kg coming up.
Brendon Beard
Brendon Beard
25/03/2024
I highly recommend Mr Attala. So far I have had a colonoscopy, gastroscopy and gastric sleeve surgery. Next up is having my gall bladder out. On all occasions I found Mr Attala calm, professional and non-judgemental, making a reasonably scary process a lot more reassuring and easier to process. I was fully informed and felt safe and comfortable in his hands. Mr Atalla also has a great team working with him. Marianne handles all appointments, paperwork and all the fiddly details, promptly and efficiently, and keeps you up to date with all the details. Bec, a nurse practitioner / dietician specialises in weight loss dietetics, and is there to assist both before and after the surgery. Bec is also calm, professional, non-judgemental and is practical and realistic in expectations of your diet transition after the surgery. If you are looking for weight loss surgery, look no further.
Jim Simpson
Jim Simpson
22/03/2024
Had Gastric Sleeve surgery with Mo Atalla in October 2023. The whole process went very smoothly, not just down to his skills as a surgeon, but with the professionalism and care of him all his team. From initial consultation through to post-op follow ups, the holistic approach involving surgeon, dietician, nurse practicioner, and admin, provided all the advice and reassurance I needed (also had access to a psychologist through the practice, but didn't use). There were no unwelcome surprises either financially or surgery-wise. A special mention to the Practice Manager, Marianne, who was terrific in keeping me completely informed throughout the process and handling any queries. I was fortunate in that there were no complications (in no small part due to the above), but am sure that if there had been, they would have been very well handled. I would recommend the procedure to anyone wanting to change their life with weight-loss surgery, and could not recommend Mo and his team more highly. Thanks & Well Done to All
samantha biles
samantha biles
19/03/2024
Their is not enough stars available to give Mo and his team, they are super amazing. The whole process was made so easy. Mo is so attentive to his patients, talks you through everything, nothing left unsaid and makes you feel at ease, and Marianne WOW I adore her, she is available to assist at any time, she is so knowledgeable, caring and helpful, always makes herself available throughout the process. They really are the dream team. To them you are not just a number, they actually care about you, before during and well after surgery. My surgery was much harder than Mo thought, it certainly tested his skills, but he did not give up on me and got the job done with great success. One year on I am down 32kg and cannot be happier. I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to look at having weight loss surgery. So much love for Mo and his team, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
Jacinta
Jacinta
04/03/2024
I first saw Mr Atalla for a General Surgery procedure back in 2021. Even though I live in Melbourne I travelled to Echuca for the procedure as through research I found him to be the best at what he does. As my first point of contact, his Practice Manager Marianne was absolutely wonderful. The professionalism & information she provided whilst booking my appointment was also one of the reasons I chose him. Mr Atalla was amazing at my consultation appointment & Marianne was so kind & helpful. The whole process was smooth & put me at ease Mr Atalla is now my go to General Surgeon for all general procedures. I couldn’t recommend Mr Atalla & his Practice Manager Marianne enough.
Liz McDonald
Liz McDonald
26/02/2024
I’ve spent years trying to find the right path toward being healthy & happy with myself. For a long time I was stuck on a loop taking me nowhere. I focused on medical labels that defined me as disabled thanks to my rheumatoid arthritis, (this was just an excuse to stay stuck). Then I found Mo Atallas website & decided to visit him & see what he could offer me. From the moment I walked into his rooms I felt at ease. His admin; Marianne has the friendliest personality & is so genuine & helpful. Then there is Mo Atalla; now he doesn’t offer any magic wand surgery, because there is no such thing. He offers the honest reality that he can help with surgery as a tool toward better weight & better health; but only if you are prepared to work hard on both body and mind. Mo and his team helped me with the tools and the support to put the hard yards in. Better Life Surgery helped me to find who I want to be, not just by losing 46kg with my gastric sleeve surgery, but by finding confidence in myself, getting my health back, adding years onto my life & most of all becoming a happier person again! Every time I visit the clinic I feel like supported in my journey and am told how proud they are of my achievements. I am not just a number to this team and you won’t be either. Thank you Mo, Marianne, Bec & Bec at BetterLife Surgery Liz
Jenn Clark
Jenn Clark
18/01/2024
Mo Atalla and his team would have to be the best that I have ever come across. His care and compassion is outstanding. I can not thank Mo enough for everything he has done for me and my family. It truly means the world to us.
Elly McCuish
Elly McCuish
07/01/2024
I couldn’t have had a better experience with the Better Life Surgery team. I have reached my goal weight in 7 months after having the gastric sleeve. Mo and Maryanne have great attention to detail and are right onto everything including the paperwork aspect. I feel very grateful to the team for helping me turn my life around for myself and my family. I could not have done this without them.