FAQs

Yes. A referral is a requirement under Medicare. This can be obtained from your GP and will last for 12 months. You can also obtain a referral from a Specialist but this will be valid for only three months. We would also like to keep your treating doctors informed about your management plan and subsequent progress.

The initial consultation fee to see Dr Willingham is $240.00. This is payable on the day of your consult and you will received $78.05 back from Medicare; which we lodge for you at the time of your consultation. 

This fee also includes a beautiful and useful book – ‘Your Complete Guide to Nutrition for Weight Loss Surgery’ by Sally Johnston  – which you will receive following your first appointment with Dr Willingham.

Once your referral has been received in our rooms, a member of our Admin team will contact you to make appointments for you see Dr Willingham, our Dietician, and our Practice Nurse.  These appointments can all be made for the same day, or on seperate days, if that is more convenient for you.

This really does depend on which surgical procedure you have and whether you have private health insurance or not. Please see our ‘Estimated Costs of Bariatric Surgery’ section, which can be found under the Patient Information tab, for a better idea.

This will depend on which surgical procedure you have. Please see our ‘Estimated Costs of Bariatric Surgery’ section, under the Patient Information tab for a better idea.

A portion of both Dr Willingham’s and the Anaesthetist’s fee is claimable back from Medicare and your Private Health Insurer. You will be provided with a Tax Invoice/Receipt following your surgery and this can be used to claim your rebates

Yes! You can have weight loss surgery without private health insurance. Uninsured patients are liable for all costs associated with the procedure and may use their superannuation to cover the costs of the procedure. Please see our ‘Estimated Costs of Bariatric Surgery’ section, under the Patient Information tab for a better idea.

If you are looking at self-funding your surgery, or considering accessing your superannuation fund, you will be interested in the total cost for surgery. The approximate upfront costs for a gastric sleeve is $16,400, whilst for one of the bypasses the approximate upfront costs would be $18,400 to $19,672. These prices include the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee, the surgical assistant’s fee, the theatre fees and theatre consumables, as well as two nights of accommodation. These fees do not include any additional investigations that might be required prior to your surgery or incidental costs incurred whilst in hospital  – eg. pharmacy costs.

A portion of Dr Willingham’s fee, along with the Anaesthetist’s fee is claimable back from Medicare. You will be provided with a Tax Invoice/Receipt following your surgery which you can use to claim your rebate from Medicare.

Please see our ‘Estimated Costs of Bariatric Surgery’ section, under the Patient Information tab for a clearer idea of costs.

You will need to contact your private health insurer and ask if you are covered for weight loss surgery.  Your health insurer may ask you about item numbers. The commonly used item numbers for weight loss surgery are: 

31572 – Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass

31575 – Sleeve Gastrectomy

31578 – One Anastomosis Gastric Bypass 

31584 – Revision or conversion of previous weight loss surgery

Regrettably, the full costs involved in providing quality medical care are not adequately covered by the Gap Cover fee arrangement. Irrespective of your level of cover, most common surgical procedures performed in the private health system involve a gap payment. 

Yes, both insured and uninsured patients may be able to access their Superannuation under compassionate medical grounds to pay for all out of pocket costs associated with weight loss surgery. You will need to submit an application form along with two letter of support – one from your GP, and the other from Dr Willingham.

Once you have had your initial consultation with Dr Willingham, we will be able to provide you with the necessary paperwork. This includes a signed ‘Compassionate Release of Superannuation – Report by registered Medical Practitioner’ (NAT74927), along with a supporting letter from Dr Willingham, and a quote for the cost of surgery that includes Dr Willingham’s and the surgical assistant’ fees. 

You will also be given details on how to obtain a quote from the Anaesthetist, and from the hospital for theatre/hospital expenses (if you do not have private health insurance that would cover this).

Once you have obtained all the necessary quotes and additional documentation from your GP you can lodge your application online through your MyGov app or via post. It can take up to 6 weeks to complete the approval process and obtain the release of your funds from superannuation.  Typically, however, this process is much quicker.

Once your theatre date had been confirmed you will be provided with a formal quote and full payment is required at least two weeks prior to your planned procedure date. After your procedure, you will be provided with a tax invoice/receipt to claim your rebate back from Medicate and your private health insurer (if applicable).

The Australian National Health & Medical Research Council recommends weight loss surgery if your BMI is over 35. This recommendation also applies if your BMI is over 30 and you have associated obesity related disorders (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnoea, arthritis).If you have already had certain procedures on your gastrointestinal system, there are certain types of weight loss operations which may be unsuitable for you. There are some medical disorders which may also make the procedures extremely dangerous. At your consultation, we will discuss which options suit your situation best.

There are many factors which contribute to the answer to this question. Dr Willingham offers a range of weight loss procedures to help you achieve your goals. Our clinic is all about giving the most informed options for each individual, therefore all recommendations only occur within the context of consultation. You may have a certain type of weight loss procedure in mind, there are several factors (e.g. – your BMI, specific medical conditions, prior operations, your ability to cope with potential risks of each procedure, and your lifestyle) which may affect which course of action is best for you. These are discussed during your initial appointment stage.

If you feel nauseated or sick on a regular basis, there are a few possible reasons.

It may mean that you are not chewing your food well or that you are not following the diet recommendations properly.Post-procedure vomiting should be avoided as much as possible. It can cause the small stomach pouch to stretch or can lead to part of the stomach slipping through the band which reduces the success of the operation and can require a further procedure.

If you have a gastric band and this problem persists, it could mean the placement of the band needs adjusting so you should contact us.

If you have had a sleeve gastrectomy, are eating carefully and frequent vomiting continues, we may need to consider the possibility of your sleeve narrowing or twisting. We recommend contacting us for further testing to determine the best solution.

If you have had a gastric bypass and experiencing on-going nausea, we recommend contacting us to make sure that you don’t have a narrowing or stricture at your anastomosis between the stomach and the small bowel.

For laparoscopic surgery, patients typically spend 1 to 2 days in the hospital. We recommend 2-4 weeks before returning to work depending on the physical demand of your occupation and resume exercising after a month to 6 weeks.

In the case of open surgery or if there are any complications, recovery can take longer and we will discuss this during your consultation process.

Weight-loss results vary and the amount of weight you lose depends on several factors. The kilograms won’t fall off by themselves and our procedures are not a miracle cure. They are a tool to help you live a healthier life. For this reason, is vital you are committed to your new lifestyle and eating habits.

It is very important to set achievable weight-loss goals from the beginning. An average weight loss of 1 kg a week over the first 6 months following the operation is possible, but this also depends on how much weight you need to lose. Usually weekly weight loss slows about twelve to eighteen months after the operation.

Remember your main goal is weight loss that prevents, improves, or resolves health problems connected with severe obesity.

Although the gastric band system is not meant to be removed, it can be.
In most cases, this can be done with laparoscopic surgery. The stomach generally returns to its original shape once the band is removed. Please be aware in the event of the removal, you may soon go back up to your original weight or even have further increase.

You do not always need surgery for any surplus skin following your weight loss.
Generally, plastic surgery is not considered for 18-24 months after surgery, or at least until your weight loss has stabilised. 
​​​​​​​Give your skin the time it needs to adjust before you make any decisions about further surgery.

It’s possible you may not get enough vitamins from three small meals a day. At your regular check-ups, your specialist will evaluate whether you are getting enough vitamin B12, folic acid, and iron. Our team at Toowoomba Bariatric Surgery work together to give you all the education and tools you need to achieve your health goals.

You should be able to take prescribed medication. You may need to use capsules, break big tablets in half or dissolve them in water so they do not get stuck in the stomach and make you sick. You should always ask the doctor who prescribes your medication about the options available with your medication.

Dining out after a weight loss procedure does not need to be an issue. Order a small amount of food, like an appetiser for your main. Eat slowly. Finish at the same time as your table companions. You might want to let your host or hostess know in advance that you cannot eat very much.

Alcohol has a high number of calories. It also breaks down vitamins. Like many diet choices in a healthy lifestyle, moderation is the key. An occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage is not considered harmful to weight loss.

After your stomach has healed, most foods shouldn’t cause you discomfort.
​​​​​​​However, because the amount of food your body can take is limited, it is important to include foods full of important vitamins and nutrients as advised by your surgeon and/or dietitian.
If you eat foods that contain lots of sugar and fat or drink liquids full of ’empty’ calories, such as milkshakes, the effect of the gastric band may be greatly reduced or cancelled.

​​​​​​​A decrease in food intake post-procedure means it is normal for some reduction in the volume of your stools. This should not cause any severe problems. If difficulties do arise, let us know as soon as possible.

Disclaimer

The information herein is not intended as medical advice. It should be considered as a reference only, or a starting point for further discussions with Dr Willingham and his team about weight loss surgery. Please be aware that results may vary from person to person