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

Tilly Goldsmith
Tilly Goldsmith
24/11/2023
I had weight loss surgery earlier this year and I have already lost 50 kg. My life has completely changed and I cannot recommend this surgery and the team at Better Life Surgery enough! Dr Mo is extremely professional and an amazing advocate for his patients, I thoroughly respect the intention and care he applies in his work.
Kim Andrews
Kim Andrews
20/11/2023
It was a scary step but well overweight with heart problems and borderline diabetes it was something i really wanted to do for my wellbeing and its been a fantastic journey that i approached with a positive attitude one i will never forget from my first consultation with the amazing Dr Atolla who was very kind and wise to the great support from Bec on dietary needs and the cheery chats and support from Mary-ann the lovely admin lady that keeps it all moving smoothly pre-op and post -op support from Bec that was simple and not complicated , the surgery , recovery then post-op i wont say it was all a breeze but with the support from the team i kept motoring on looking toward the outcome and YES !!! Febuary was my surgery ive lost around 25kg my heart meds have been reduced my sugars are awesome i feel 10yrs younger and i must say 😊 look 10yrs younger too the best decision ever thank you so much to the team your Awesome !!!! Dont hesitate anyone im 57 wish i had of met the team earlier ❤️
Janet Congues
Janet Congues
16/11/2023
In 2019, I had an accident where, the short version is that I have ended up with Osteoarthritis in my right ankle & sub-Talar joints & needed fusion. Pain levels were 5-6/10, chronic and worsening. PTSD & brain-fog affected my well-being, ability to read and work. It was a struggle to walk 400m. Two weeks post gastric sleeve surgery my pain levels were down to 2-3/10 and often negligible & while it was about 3-400m too far, I was able to walk from my favorite café to home (1.8km) with no debilitating pain or consequences. Three weeks post surgery, I had read a novel from cover to cover and started back at work. Lo and behold! I am now almost seven weeks post surgery, I am working productively three days a week (like I used to before the accident), I am looking to spend time with my friends, my PTSD testing results have improved, I am driving locally again and I am walking almost daily around my block (1.2km) with no debilitating pain or consequences. I never dreamt that my world would or could turn around like this so soon. I cannot thank Mo, Maryanne, Haley (EP), Becky (Dietician) & Rod (Psychologist) enough for playing such a pivotal role in helping me to regain my sense of who I am. This holistic approach to major surgery has been an incredible experience & I feel blest that I have had such an incredible, professional & caring team to work with, who enable me to recapture the person in me I thought I had lost. While I have lost significant weight, for me this journey has meant so much more and I look forward to seeing the overall weight-loss progress over the coming year. Now two years down the track and I have finally stabilised and added 5kg. But overall I lost 45kg with the surgery and am extremely happy with the outcome. I cannot thank Mo enough for working with me. Through this surgery, I have improved my health and mobility so much much that when I underwent hindfoot fusion of the subtalar and ankle joints in January 2023, my recovery was near perfect and this week, I was finally able to walk around the lake with a single crutch (2km) during rehab and with no pain repercussions. Last week, I even walked 800+ metres without the crutch - my EP held on to it though. I am so grateful to work with a surgeon and his team who take a wholistic approach and are more focused on a person's overall health and well-being. So incredibly grateful.
Carolann Cosgriff
Carolann Cosgriff
14/11/2023
BETTER LIFE SURGERY Absolutely outstanding! Mo Atalla is a wonderful surgeon, and his staff are always helpful and kind. They ensured I had a smooth prep, surgery, and follow-up with my procedure (Roux En Y Gastric Bypass). I am so glad I chose Better Life Surgery and would highly recommend them to anyone with no qualms whatsoever. Mo Atalla is incredible. Not only has he taken great care of my health, but also he is lovely to speak with at every appointment, and actually listens to you. It’s rare to find a doctor that combines such personal touches and care for a patient as a person with outstanding quality of medical care. Mo gets it! From his excellent treatment, curiosity, investigative mind and ability to connect, you know where you stand immediately and what next steps look like. Mo is terrific. Knowledgeable, sensitive, informative, I immediately felt at ease and felt confident in receiving expert medical care. Marianne is amazing like a balm for your soul always kind and caring always goes the extra mile guiding and nurturing along the way. I can't thank you enough for the special, excellent care you have provided and for the unique gift you are to your patients. Thank you so much for the great care and surgery you performed on me. I walked away, very impressed with the overall experience. I highly recommend becoming his patient! 10/10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Jenna
Jenna
14/11/2023
Highly recommend Mo and the team at BetterLife surgery. Mo and his team of professionals were reassuring, professional and highly supportive from the beginning and throughout the whole process. I appreciate having been referred to Mo for this journey as he is a fantastic and caring surgeon.
Patricia Pate
Patricia Pate
30/10/2023
Excellent services over several years' by Mr. Mohamed Atalla and his kind and caring Receptionist, Mary Ann, at his Shepparton Clinic. We are so very privileged to have Mr. Atalla as my elderly husband's (John) skilful surgeon and can't thank him enough for his care, kindness and talent always. Very sincerely 'THANK YOU' Mr. Atalla. Patricia and John Pate.
Simone Franza
Simone Franza
19/10/2023
Dr Atalla and his team provide the highest level of knowledge, love and support during your journey. The holistic nature makes you feel so comfortable and the level of care makes you feel understood and supported. I highly recommend. <3
Stacey Raeshelle
Stacey Raeshelle
18/10/2023
When starting this journey I set on my decision and had all my duck in order for it to happen but the nervous and all the other emotions where all consuming until I met Mo, Bec and Marianne . These will be your three biggest supporters. This team truly cares, I had seen other surgeons but never truly aligned goals, expectations and personalities with so find who you are comfortable with. I started out at 118 kg pre op and 6 months post op my weight is 82kg. 36kg down and 16kg away from my goal. My whole self has changed no more anxiety when I leave the house, constantly worried about the people around me looking and laughing. I an no longer constantly hyper aware of my body and how I look etc. I’m now peaceful, happy, comfortable in my own skin and daily movement is no longer a struggle. I would do this process all over again to get my life back and I would go straight to better life surgery team. You’re amazing and look forward to future appointments.
Nicki Scott
Nicki Scott
12/10/2023
Mo and the team have been so very supportive on my weightloss journey. I can’t recommend them enough 🙂 I hav a new lease on life, self esteem back and more energy.
Lynne Davis
Lynne Davis
07/08/2023
Everyone was beautiful, helpful and kind. I have no hesitation in recommending Better life Surgery