Manitoba men considering bariatric surgery no longer have to go out of province to have the procedure done.

For the first time, the surgery is being offered to men in Manitoba.

Last year, a pilot project was limited to lower risk patients, but only women.

Surgeon Dr. Chris Andrews says 120 surgeries were successfully completed. Now, the criteria has expanded to include men as well as women with higher body mass index.

“Men are considered somewhat higher risk patients to operate on for any abdominal surgery because of the way they carry their weight,”said Andrews.

The goal is to perform 200 procedures a year.

Each surgery typically costs $7,500.

Sherwin Vasallo, a strength coach at Acceleration Fitness Centre, knows just how difficult it can be to lose weight.

“I’ve lost 30 pounds, and with a frame like mine it’s real tough to lose because I’m pretty small in stature,” said Vasallo.

For people looking to shed more than 100 pounds, sometimes hitting the gym isn't enough. That’s why bariatric surgery being available is a valuable option.

The province’s health minster Theresa Oswald said that, based on medical advice, the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks for some people.

Oswald said the government is interested in supporting a program that can help to dramatically improve someone’s life and save the health care system money in the long run.

In the past, Manitobans were sent to Alberta of Ontario to have the procedure.

In the last four or five years, Oswald says 500 Manitobans have been referred out of province for the surgery.

- with a report from CTV's Ina Sidhu