Frequently Asked Questions

Please click the links below for Frequently Asked Questions about Bariatric Surgery.

General Questions

What is Body Mass Index or BMI?

Body mass index is way of adjusting for the fact that taller people will weight more than shorter people.  It is associated with long term health, but does not take in to account the effects of gender, race, age or muscle mass.

How do you calculate BMI?

BMI may be calculated by dividing your weight in metres by the square of your height in kilograms.  Alternatively it may be calculated using the form on this page.

Am I a candidate for bariatric surgery?

As with other elective surgery, the decision to undergo bariatric surgery is a balance of the health and wellbeing improvements you might expect after surgery against the risks and long term side effects of surgery.

If you have a BMI of greater than 35 kg/m², have struggled with weight over time, and have been unable to keep weight off through diet and exercise alone you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery.  If you have type 2 diabetes and a BMI of greater than
30 kg/m², then bariatric surgery may also be of benefit.  More information may be found

What operations do you offer?

For surgical weight loss, Dr Smith offers a range of modern laparoscopic bariatric procedures including laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic one anastomosis gastric bypass, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and revision procedures.  For more information about weight loss surgery please click here.  Dr Smith also specialises in other advanced laparoscopic surgery including laparoscopic gallbladder removal, laparoscopic hernia repair, laparoscopic anti-reflux surgery (fundoplication), colonoscopy and endoscopy.  For further information on these procedures please click here.

What are the pre-surgical requirements for weight loss surgery?

Weight loss surgery is safest and most effective as part of an integrated weight loss surgery program.  Here at Aspiring Bariatrics Laparoscopy and Endoscopy Limited we partner with other professionals to provide this comprehensive service.  The pre-surgical program usually includes:

  • Free no obligation online information webinar
  • Comprehensive nutritional assessment from a dietitian experienced in bariatric surgery
  • Health psychology assessment to improve long term outcomes after surgery
  • Full medical assessment
  • Laboratory studies (blood tests)
  • Diagnostic sleep testing (for sleep apnoea) if indicated
  • Pre-surgical anaesthetic assessment
Will my health insurance cover bariatric surgery?

Coverage for bariatric surgery in New Zealand varies between health insurers, with some covering part of the cost of an operation.  In addition, some insurers will cover a bariatric operation where it is the best treatment for another covered health condition such as gastro-oesophageal reflux.  

We encourage you to talk to your health insurer whether they offer a bariatric surgery benefit and what their eligibility criteria are to access this.

Can I use my KiwiSaver to pay for bariatric surgery?

Access to KiwiSaver funds is available only in specific circumstances as defined by the Government.  In general KiwiSaver is not designed to provide access to funds for elective surgery in the same way as it can be used for a first home deposit.  It may be possible however to access KiwiSaver to pay for bariatric surgery if the impact of your weight on your health prevents you from being able to work, or if the cost of paying for bariatric surgery would otherwise result in significant financial hardship.  For more information please see this blog post or contact your KiwiSaver provider.

Do you offer finance or payment plans?

While we do not offer payment plans ‘in house’, we do partner with Nova medical finance who specialise in loans for medical procedures.

In some cases, KiwiSaver can be used to pay for bariatric surgery, please see this blog post for further information.

To find out more please contact us.

Do I need a referral from my GP?

The decision to undergo weight loss surgery has important consequences for your overall long-term health.  Although at Aspiring Bariatrics Laparoscopy and Endoscopy Limited we do not require a GP referral to make an appointment, we strongly encourage you to talk to you GP about the pros and cons of bariatric surgery on your health.  We do require you to have the support of your GP prior to going ahead with surgery.  If you or your GP have further questions please contact us.

What happens if I have a complication after bariatric surgery?

Serious complications are fortunately extremely rare after modern bariatric surgery.  Dr Smith does not charge any additional fees for his management of complications that occur during the two year routine follow-up period after bariatric surgery*, although hospital charges and anaesthesia charges may still apply.

If a minor complication delays your discharge from Mercy Hospital then Aspiring Bariatrics will cover any additional hospital charges.  If a major complication occurs during your stay in Mercy Hospital then the ACC treatment injury process will usually cover any additional hospital or anaesthetic charges.  If a major complication occurs after your discharge from Mercy Hospital then you would be admitted to your nearest public hospital for management of this, and there would not be any cost to this.  Although Dr Smith no longer practices routinely at Dunedin Hospital, he has retained the ability to provide shared care there should you need to be admitted for a serious complication after bariatric surgery.

* This coverage does not include surgery for gallstones, as gallstones are a common consequence of significant weight loss.

Do you publish your complication rates after bariatric surgery?

We fully support transparency with regards to complication rates and other key performance indicators after bariatric surgery.  Unadjusted complication rates can be misleading however as they can be affected by case mix (e.g. revision operations have higher complication rates, as do operations in heavier or sicker people).  Also for newer or less common operations these can be very misleading.  In order to strike the right balance between openness and transparency, and reliable and meaningful data we contribute to the ANZMOSS Bariatric Surgery Registry.  Although aggregate data only is published at this stage, we hope that as the registry grows with time, data from individual programs will be made available.

Do you provide adjustments for Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Bands?

Although we no longer place adjustable gastric bands, we are happy to provide an adjustment service and to manage complications from this operation.  If people have not been seen previously by Aspiring Bariatrics they will need a copy of their operation report from their original surgeon, and a barium swallow x-ray which we are able to organise prior to their first adjustment.

Patient resources

Patient Information Resources
Weight Loss Surgery Links
Otago and Southland Healthcare Providers
  • Southern Cross Hospital – Invercargill based private surgical hospital providing bariatric and other general surgery facilities
  • Mercy Hospital Dunedin – Dunedin based private surgical hospital providing bariatric surgery facilities
  • Queenstown Medical Centre – Integrated Family Health Centre, general practice and accident and medical services provider based in Queenstown
  • Intus Clinic – Specialist provider of digestive and colorectal care services to Queenstown and Central Otago
  • Gutmed – Specialist endoscopy and gastroenterology practice for patients of Southland and Central Otago
  • Renovate Nutrition – Web site of Renee Ladbrook, Invercargill based dietitian
  • Nutrition & Life – Web site of Josephine Greer, Dunedin based dietitian with a special interest in bariatric surgery

Have a Different Question?

PO Box 6276, Dunedin North, 9059