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Waitematā DHB General Surgery Services

Public Service, General Surgery, Bariatric (Weight Loss) Surgery

Surgery for Obesity (Bariatric Surgery)

Obesity is one of the main causes of poor health. Morbid obesity is a term that is used when weight has becomes such a problem it severely affects a person’s health. Individuals are considered morbidly obese if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is 40 or higher and severely obese if the BMI is between 35 to 39.

Surgery is increasingly recognised as an effective treatment for those who are severely or morbidly obese and have been unable to lose weight and keep it off. It can be called bariatric, obesity, metabolic or weight loss surgery and it refers to operations designed to help reduce a person’s weight and improve their health.  

The operations result in either restricting the amount of food people are able to eat, absorb or both. Surgery is not for everyone and it involves not just a degree of risk but a commitment to a permanent lifestyle change. See the ‘for more information’ section below for further details about the surgery.

Who can have bariatric surgery?
Auckland and Waitematā District Health Board will consider people for surgery if they:

  • Have a BMI of 40 or more
  • Have a BMI of 35 or higher and have other obesity-related severe diseases that could be improved such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes or obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Have previously failed attempts to lose weight
  • Understand what the surgery involves, what to expect before and afterwards and are committed to a permanent lifestyle change (diet and exercise)

Follow this link to calculate your BMI

If an individual considering the surgery smokes, they are encouraged to quit prior to surgery. Assistance is available through:

At Waitematā DHB, people who wish to be considered for surgery must be drug free and smoke free for at least 6 months prior to their doctor referring them for surgery.

Your doctor will need to refer you for surgery and then the hospital will confirm if you will be considered for surgery or not as even though you may meet the criteria, bariatric surgery is provided through the DHBs for only a relatively small number of people each year. Patients are prioritised using a tool provided by the Ministry of Health to identify who would benefit most from the surgery.

What can be achieved with bariatric surgery?
Bariatric surgery may help to reduce excess weight but it is not an easy option or a quick fix. The surgery can help to prevent diseases that being obese can cause and can add years to the life of the patient. However, it takes hard work and lifelong changes to eating and physical activity to achieve and maintain weight loss.

Surgery itself also carries a risk of complications or problems. These risks need to be balanced against the benefits that surgery can bring in improving the quality of life.

What are the steps in the process?

  • Referred to the District Health Board (DHB)
  • Considered against the Ministry of Health prioritisation tool and the DHB criteria
  • Invited to patient information seminar
  • Acceptance into the programme
Preparing for Surgery
  • Full patient assessment
  • Consultations with specialists
  • Pre-surgery lifestyle changes goal setting
  • Type of surgery confirmed
  • Surgery date confirmed
  • Prescribed weight loss programme prior to surgery
Following Surgery
  • Follow-up appointments with specialists
  • Monitoring of lifestyle changes
  • Support from friends and family

For more information
Talk with your doctor to discuss your options and if you wish to be referred for bariatric surgery.

Go to Health Navigator for more information and links to further details.

Contact us:
Bariatric Clinical Nurse Specialist (Auckland DHB): Elaine Yi –

If you would like support from our Māori or Pacific health teams contact us at:

Māori Health Services - He Kamaka Waiora
Phone 09 486 8324 ext 3553
Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm

Pacific Health Tautai Fakataha
Service Hours
Monday to Friday 8am – 4.30pm
Contact our support team
Tautai Fakataha Waitematā DHB Duty Phone: 021 726 076
Tautai Fakataha Auckland DHB Duty Phone: 021 725 932

After Hours urgent inquiry
09 486 8920, ask for Pacific Health ‘inpatient on call’

This page was last updated at 12:22PM on August 27, 2021.