Sabrina Piccini is a qualified dietician who works with Dr Kevin Dolan.
Sabrina’s passion for dietetics started at a very young age. She immigrated to Australia as a child, an experience that she found stressful. She turned to food as a source of comfort during this challenging time and began seeing a dietician at around the age of 12 years old.
Learning to make smart food choices at such a young age, combined with a passion for science and understanding how the body works, fuelled her interest in healthy eating. After graduating from university, Sabrina worked in a number of jobs, including in children’s nutrition and her own private practice.
She now works with Dr Kevin Dolan where she focuses on bariatric care. Read on to find out more about Sabrina and the work that she does…
What do you find fulfilling about working with bariatric patients?
By the time bariatric patients get to our office, they’ve tried everything. There is a lot of satisfaction in being able to give someone the tools, seeing how their life can progress and seeing the health benefits, such as decreasing blood sugars, cholesterol and insulin.
You build a relationship with the person and you get invested. Seeing them succeed, and seeing them being happier and healthier people who are now finding more quality in their life — that’s what draws me to bariatrics.
What health message would you give to anyone considering bariatric surgery?
It’s not a quick fix. People who haven’t had bariatric surgery will often think that it’s the easy way out. Bariatric surgery is not an easy process — it’s mentally and emotionally very challenging.
If you are thinking about it, it isn’t easy, but it is a huge opportunity to restart your life, to listen to your body and to help with many other health conditions.
Do I need to lose weight before surgery?
We don’t generally need you to lose a specific amount of weight, although there is a weight limit that we do recommend at our clinic so if you’re above that, we do like you to lose some weight before surgery.
But if you’re already eligible surgery, we don’t require a certain amount of weight to be lost. We know that your whole lifestyle is going to change, and there will be so many changes after surgery, plus, we put you on a pre-op diet anyway. This does sometimes bring about weight loss, but the main aim of the pre-op diet is to shrink the liver in order to make the surgery safer. It also works as mental and internal body preparation.
What does the pre-op diet usually look like?
We use a very low-calorie diet and recommend Optifast, which is the only meal replacement range that has been through evidence-based research showing that it puts the liver into ketosis and allows it to use its own energy sources to shrink.
Your blood readings will determine how strict your pre-op diet needs to be and each individual is different.
Why is it important to minimise the liver before surgery?
As we put on weight, the liver can actually expand, which can become problematic as it can start to cover the stomach. If we can get the liver to shrink as much as we can, it makes it visually easier to see the stomach and do the surgery. If the liver doesn’t shrink and it is not safe to perform the surgery, the procedure will not go ahead.
Want to learn more about your diet pre and post-bariatric surgery?
If you would like to hear more from Sabrina, please listen to our podcast here.
If you would like to arrange a consultation with Dr Kevin Dolan and his team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.