Frequently Asked Questions
What is obesity and what is BMI?
Obesity is an abnormal or excess fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. It is a major risk factor for a number of diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases like strokes and heart attacks, and even certain types of cancer. Obesity is the world’s most prevalent metabolic disorder, and continues to be on a rising trend. In Singapore, the prevalence of obesity has risen from 6.9% in 2004 to 10.8% in 2010.
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to measure a person’s body fat based on height and weight. It is calculated by divided one’s weight (in kilograms) over the square of one’s height (in metres). It can be inaccurate in very muscular individuals as it cannot differentiate muscle mass from fat mass well.
The following table shows the range of BMIs and associated health risks as modified for Asian populations
Am I a candidate for obesity surgery?
Your doctor can best advise you on whether to seek surgical treatment for your condition. The presence of other obesity related diseases can also influence whether surgery is the right option for you. General guidelines recommend surgery as a treatment option for patients with a BMI>37. However, if there is an associated obesity related disease present, surgery can be consider for patients with a BMI >32. There is considerable flexibility in these guidelines and other factors can affect whether bariatric surgery is a good option even for patients with lower BMIs.
Consequences of obesity
Morbid obesity can result in a shorter life expectancy compared to individuals of normal weight. It also increases the risk for developing other diseases like type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks. Morbid obesity also has a negative impact on one’s mental health and can be a cause for social isolation and discrimination. Daily activities can be harder as movement is more difficult and one’s stamina may be poorer. Public transport may be too small for one.
Will I be able to eat after surgery?
Yes. However, there will be many changes in your food intake after surgery. The amount of food you are able to eat will be much smaller. It is necessary to chew your food well before swallowing. A dietician will advise you on the portions and choices of food to take. You may first be started on liquids before slowing progressing to solids to allow you to get used to your surgery.
How much weight will I lose?
The amount of weight loss can vary between 2 patients who underwent identical surgeries. The surgery does not work alone; it needs to be combined with healthy eating habits and physical exercises. Weight loss is initially quite rapid, but is expected to slow down and even plateau at the end of 1 year. It is important to stay committed to your new diet and exercise plans.
Will I need vitamin supplements?
Lifelong vitamin supplements are required, along with clinic follow-up and blood tests to ensure adequate nutrition.
Will I need plastic surgery for excess skin?
Skin is elastic and may recoil and mould itself around the new body after weight loss. For some patients though, the excess skin remains after weight loss and can cause problems. It is important to clean and dry under the skin folds. Surgery to trim the excess skin can be considered after your weight has stabilised – usually in a year or two.
Can I get pregnant after surgery?
Pregnancy can be easier as you lose weight as your menstrual cycle may become more regular. You may still need to seek a gynaecologist consult if there are other fertility issues. It is important to plan your pregnancy and to let your bariatric surgeon and gynaecologist know your plans to ensure that your nutritional requirements are met.