Bariatric Surgery Programme | Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau

Bariatric Surgery Programme

On this page

> Meet the Team

> About Obesity and Bariatric Surgery 

> Surgical Options available at Whangarei Hospital

> The Bariatric Surgery Journey

> Life after Surgery 

> Frequently Asked Questions 

> More information


Meet the Team

  • Sean Liddle - Surgeon and Clinical Lead

Sean is our bariatric surgeon. He was born and raised in New Zealand and grew up on the Kapiti Coast, Wellington. Sean did his general surgery training throughout New Zealand and spent a year in Northland in 2014. His bariatric surgery training was in Calgary, Canada, before returning to New Zealand in 2021. Sean is happy to have settled in Northland with his young family, and when he is not working or being a dad, enjoys going for a run, surf or a round of golf.


  • Sarah Fallon - Clinical Nurse Specialist

Sarah is new to the Bariatric Specialty. She was born in Auckland and has worked in a number of clinical settings in senior nursing roles. Sarah has witnessed the positive impacts bariatric surgery can have for people and feels privileged to be involved in making this specialty a success in Northland. Sarah and her family moved to Whangarei in 2017 and enjoy the “laid-back” lifestyle that comes with living in Northland.


  • Dana Antunovich – Psychologist

            He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata! (What is the most important thing in the world? It is people!)
            Dana is a Health Psychologist and did her training at the University of Auckland. She was born and raised in Te Tai Tokerau and has
            worked at Te Whatu Ora – Whangārei Hospital for the past three years.


  • Jessica de Wit – Dietitian

Jessica has recently returned to Northland and the Whangarei Bariatric service. She completed her Masters of Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Auckland in 2015 with her thesis on high versus low protein diets for weight loss in patients awaiting bariatric surgery. Jessica previously worked at Northland DHB in Surgical, Intensive Care, Orthopaedics and the Bariatric programme. She is passionate about nutrition and helping patients pre and post surgery to meet their nutritional needs. Jessica loves baking, running with her dog and anything outdoorsy.




About Obesity and Bariatric Surgery


Obesity is a complex condition with physical, social, and psychological implications. It can affect virtually all age and socioeconomic groups. The world we live in is very obesogenic – our foods have become very high in calories and our environments makes physical activity challenging.

Research has shown that our bodies don’t like us losing and weight and will try to defend against changing. The concept that the body weight stays stable despite changes in diet and energy expenditure is known as the body weight “set-point”. Surgery is a useful tool to help reset the body weight “set-point”.

Bariatrics is a branch of medicine that specializes in the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity. Bariatric surgery is a major procedure and a life-altering event. The surgery intentionally alters your gastrointestinal tract to facilitate weight-loss. This weight loss is significant and is usually associated with substantial improvements in obesity related illnesses such as diabetes and sleep apnoea.

Expected Outcomes

  • Weight loss – 20-30%
  • Diabetes – 60% chance of remission
  • Hypertension – 50% chance of remission
  • Fatty Liver – 80% chance of remission
  • Sleep Apnoea – 50% chance of remission




Surgical Options available at Whangarei Hospital


Whangarei Hospital offers two types of surgery:Whangarei Hospital offers two types of surgery:

• The Sleeve gastrectomy

• The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (also known as the laparoscopic gastric bypass)

See “More Information” for links on weight loss surgery.



The Bariatric Surgery Journey


The actual operation is only part of your weight management journey. A team of specialised health professionals will support you before, during and for three years after your surgery.

The team consists of:

  • a registered nurse
  • registered dietitian
  • psychologist
  • anaesthetist
  • bariatric surgeon
  • your GP

Before your surgery you will be working with the members of the team to prepare you for your surgery and on-going lifestyle changes. A treatment plan will be formulated alongside you. This will require your attendance at a number of clinic appointments and education sessions. It is compulsory to attend all appointments.

Prior to your operation you will need to undergo some medical investigations including a gastroscopy. You will also require blood tests both pre and post-surgery.

In the weeks prior to your surgery you will be prescribed a liquid diet (Opti-fast®). It is crucial that you keep to this diet prior to your operation as the purpose of the diet is to shrink your liver size and reduce the fat around your stomach. If the diet is not maintained surgery may not be possible.



Life after Surgery


The Bariatric Team will continue to support you after your surgery. You cannot fully control how much weight you lose after surgery. Focus on the behaviour changes that you can control for your best health and well-being.

Regular follow-up appointments and blood tests continue after your surgery particularly in the first year.  You will also be required to take lifelong vitamin supplements. 

Follow up continues for 3 years after your surgery.



More Information


The following links provide more information on obesity and bariatric surgery.


If you have any further questions please email us:

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