Staff celebrate ten years of weight loss surgery helping Teessiders to live a healthier life

The bariatric team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has been working for 10 years to help patients live a healthy life free from some of the limits of obesity.

Since the department opened in 2011, the team has completed more than 850 procedures.

Bariatric surgery, perhaps better known as weight loss surgery, is available to people who are prepared to commit to big changes in their lifestyle to improve their ability to live life the way they would like to – whether that’s running around with the kids, enjoying gardening or being able to do a spot of shopping.

One patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, has undergone an incredible transformation – not only in her weight but in her life as well.

Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the patient struggled with her fertility and underwent bariatric surgery so that she could go through with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

She lost 100% of her excess weight and, after her IVF, had twin daughters. Her diabetes also went into remission.

The bariatric team at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust performs three different types of weight loss surgery – gastric sleeves, gastric balloons and gastric bypass.

Each keyhole surgery works to reduce the size of the stomach, limiting food intake and, ultimately, helping our bariatric patients to lose weight.

Lorraine Oliver, a specialist bariatric nurse at the Trust for more than eight years, said: “Working as part of the bariatric team is the most rewarding post I’ve worked in during my career in nursing. I can’t even begin to express how eye-opening it is working with bariatric patients.

“Change is difficult for everyone. Those who seek weight loss surgery have the willingness and courage to make often-dramatic lifestyle changes. Being part of a bariatric patient’s journey and seeing their change is profound.”

Over her 32 years in the Trust, Lorraine has worked in several other surgical roles but enjoys the unique opportunity in bariatrics to continue working with patients after their surgery.

Lorraine continued: “Our team is passionate about providing exceptional care, tailored to meet individual patients’ needs.

“If you ask me to tell you my favourite part of the job, I will always say the patients.”

All referrals for weight loss surgery come from specialist weight management services of a patient’s GP.

In order to qualify for the surgery, patients need to be at least 18-years-old, have a BMI of 35 or more and a medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnoea or a BMI of 40 or more with no medical conditions.

Any patients with a BMI below 50 are initially referred into a specialist weight management service so that no stone is left unturned before carrying out surgery.

Vanessa Osborne is a senior dietitian, joining the bariatrics team in 2013. She said: “As a team we understand that there often isn’t a single cause of weight gain and everyone’s background is different.

“Weight gain is a complex interaction between the individual’s biology, food consumption, psychology and their activity. Environmental factors such as societal influences and food availability is also a contributing factor.”

To mark the tenth anniversary of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s bariatric service, the team have put together some weight management tips to help you be as healthy as possible.

Weight management tips

  • Eat three balanced meals a day, starting with a healthy breakfast. Try to have these meals at planned times and only include snacks if you are physically hungry. If you find that you do want a snack, choose foods that are low in fat and sugar, and limit sweet, fatty and salty snacks.
  • Aim to eat more fruit and vegetables. It is recommended that you eat five portions (about a handful each) of fruit and vegetables each day.
  • Eat smaller portions. Fill half of your plate with vegetables or salad and divide the other half between meat, fish or beans and starchy foods like potatoes, rice or pasta.
  • After eating wait at least 15 minutes before deciding if you need more food. It takes time for your brain to know your stomach is full.
  • You should aim to drink two litres of fluid a day. Choose low calorie, non-caffeinated drinks.
  • Moderate the amount of alcohol you drink as alcohol is high in calories.
  • Eat mindfully. Eat slowly and really taste the food you are putting in your mouth. Limit other distractions such as working, reading and watching TV as this can cause you to overeat.
  • Forget about ‘diets’. Diets can be extreme, strict and nutritionally unbalanced. They often dictate what you should and should not eat, meaning you are unlikely to stick to it for very long. Instead, eat balanced meals.
  • Be more active.

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