The Ministry of Health estimates that one in three adult New Zealanders are obese. Morbid obesity is not just the result of excess eating, but is a chronic disease with many contributing factors. Surgery is considered for morbid obesity only after all other interventions have been exhausted.
Nelson/Marlborough residents now have local access to bariatric (weight loss) surgery for the first time. Mr Mark Stewart, a General Surgeon, recently moved to Nelson with his wife, Sarah, and their new baby. “I’ve always wanted to work in Nelson. Managing obesity is a passion that I’ve developed over several years of seeing how much of an issue it is in New Zealand, and how people benefit from weight loss surgery. I’m really enthusiastic about making the service available in the region.”
Mark completed his medical degree from the University of Otago in 2008, and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. He developed an interest in bariatric surgery whilst undertaking general surgical training throughout New Zealand. He moved to Australia where he consolidated his skills in a dedicated bariatric role. “I was fortunate to work in the busiest bariatric centre in Western Australia, where the quality of training and surgical outcomes were excellent.”
Mark now performs bariatric surgery at Manuka Street Hospital, the Nelson Tasman region’s only private surgical hospital. Manuka Street is renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities and extremely high standard of professional nursing care. Mark has built a team of health professionals to support him at Manuka Street, all of whom have had extensive experience working with bariatric patients, including an anaesthetist, dietitian and psychologist.
“Having weight loss surgery is a major decision. We need to ensure that patients are prepared to make a lifelong commitment to the change in lifestyle and relationship with food that accompanies weight loss surgery. We provide extensive pre-and post-operative support and at least two years’ follow-up to help patients achieve and maintain their weight loss goals. We know that for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 35, losing weight and keeping it off long-term using diet and exercise alone is virtually impossible. That’s a serious problem, because carrying that much weight is not only associated with chronic health problems including diabetes, arthritis and breathing issues, it also significantly affects people’s quality of life.
“Research shows that weight loss surgery combined with lifestyle change can result in long-lasting weight loss. The health benefits can be life-changing and potentially life-prolonging. Weight loss surgery often allows people with diabetes to come off insulin and other medications. It improves heart and lung health, and makes exercise more enjoyable. Sometimes people whose weight previously prevented them from having other operations they needed, such as hip operations, become eligible at their new weight. For me as a bariatric surgeon, it’s moving to see the physical and emotional transformations which often take place.”
Many health insurers provide cover for this surgery. If you are interested in a bariatric weight loss procedure, ask your GP for a referral, or contact Mr Mark Stewart directly at Nelson Surgical Associates.