Full-service bariatric surgery program comes to London

London Health Sciences Centre has joined the Ontario Bariatric Network, offering a full-service bariatric surgery program for patients suffering from obesity.

Patients no longer have to travel outside of the city to undergo weight-loss intervention

Dr. Christopher Schlachta and bariatric surgery patient Lori Masterson outside of Univeristy Hospital in London, Ont. (Chris dela Torre/CBC)

The London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has announced it is now part of the Ontario Bariatric Network, offering patients a full-service program to help obese patients change their lives through lifestyle and surgical intervention.

"We offer a rigorous, full-service bariatric surgery program that starts with assessment, and provides comprehensive care before, during and after surgery," said Dr. Christopher Schlachta, surgeon and regional lead for Bariatric surgery at LHSC.

"Patients receive thorough assessments and education prior to bariatric surgery, and are closely followed post-operatively for a period of up to five years."

Previously, patients in the London area had to travel to Windsor for appointments and then to Toronto for surgery. That was the case for Lori Masterson's husband, Kevin, who underwent bariatric surgery over two years ago. But now that the LHSC has adopted a bariatric program, Lori herself underwent surgery in London about six months ago.

"Before that, I was obese. Life was challenging," she said. "I had chronic knee pain, it was hard to keep up to my daughter, work was hard because I had to get up and down off the floor all day long, there was lots of challenges that I had to deal with."

Lori has since lost about 40 kilograms and no longer needs to take blood pressure medication.

"I feel better overall. Life is easier, work is easier, and keeping up with my daughter is easier," she said.

"There are other 'no scale victories as well' such as noticing that I can easily sit in a chair with arms, and that my knees no longer feel sore. I'm planning on playing volleyball in the Fall."

According to Dr. Schlachta, obesity can be attributed to multiple factors, including genetics, hormones and psychological issues. Using lifestyle and surgical intervention has proven to be effective for weight loss.

"Medically supervised weight loss programs typically result in three to four per cent of total long-term weight loss," said Dr. Schlachta.

"Surgical intervention results in a sustained weight loss of 30 per cent and over a 70 per cent cure rate of obesity related co-morbidities. The greatest results are seen in the first year, usually with patients experiencing 20 to 30 pound loss in the first month."

The program accepts adult patients with a body mass index of 40 or higher. Patients with a body mass index is 35-40 who suffer from sleep apnea, hypertension or diabetes are also eligible.

So far this year, 145 patients have received bariatric surgery in London, with 200 patients expected to undergo surgery in 2020.