Inside Mediclinic Bloemfontein’s Bariatric Centre of Excellence

Posted on 21 January 2020

Only 11 centres have been accredited by The South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and Metabolism, and Mediclinic is proud to host two of them. We take a look inside Mediclinic Bloemfontein’s multidisciplinary approach to weight loss for those with chronic or severe obesity-related issues.

“This is a life-changing and potentially life-saving procedure. But it is also highly regulated. It must be done under certain conditions, and by certain surgeons. This is why accreditation is so important: it helps keep our patients safe.”

Dr Carl Streicher is a general surgeon who has been practicing at Mediclinic Bloemfontein since 2007. There is no formal, super specialist training for bariatric surgery in South-Africa and a general surgeon must have experience in advanced, laparoscopic surgery to be able to perform this complex surgery.    

However, bariatric surgery is unique in SA. It is regulated according to international best practice guidelines stipulated by the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and Metabolism. 

Mediclinic Bloemfontein is the proud home to an accredited Centre of Excellence for Metabolic Medicine and Surgery, as certified by the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and Metabolism – and this is good news for local patients. 

Mediclinic Bloemfontein offers gastric bypass (Roux and Y) and sleeve gastrectomy bariatric procedures, which adjust the digestive system and are designed to help patients lose weight rapidly. 

Dr Streicher explains that these procedures are particularly beneficial for patients who are at risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and Type 2 diabetes. 

Patients who qualify as good candidates for the surgery include those with a body mass index of 40 or higher or those with a BMI between 35 and 39 along with a serious weight-related health problem. These patients have usually also had little success in losing weight by conventional means, such as diet or lifestyle changes. 

Dr Streicher says bariatric surgery is proven to be highly effective for those who require it, but the process of assessing and preparing patients is complex. “When you are dealing with someone who is morbidly obese, and who is suffering from a range of related health issues, you must be careful. We are changing how a person eats, and how they think about eating – these adjustments can have a long-term psychological effect. So we must be certain that this person will benefit, and that they are capable of coping with the dramatic changes.”

Mediclinic Bloemfontein offers a multidisciplinary approach to the challenge. Prior to surgery, prospective patients are evaluated by a team of healthcare providers, including a general practitioner, nurse practitioner, a bariatric surgeon, specialist physician or endocrinologist, psychologist, dietician and anaesthetist. They may also be referred to a cardiologist and psychiatrist. 

These experts play crucial roles, says Dr Streicher. “Dramatic weight-loss can affect a person’s relationships and self-esteem – in fact, all aspects of life. It has been proven all over the world that if patients are taken through this multidisciplinary system, they have better results – because they are screened, and we are operating only on optimal  candidates, and because the patient knows what to expect after surgery.”

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