Abu Dhabi, UAE: Among UAE residents, Emiratis are the most likely to opt for invasive surgical procedures to lose weight, according to doctors.
As many as three out of four procedures were requested by Emiratis, they said.
But one such patient said that people should be aware of how weight-loss surgeries would affect their lives physically and psychologically.
The lap-band system, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass are some of the most popular procedures, all of which are performed through making small cuts in the abdomen.
Dr Ayman Shaker Soliman, consultant of minimal invasive surgeries at NMC Specialty Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said Emiratis made up about 60 per cent of his patients.
“We are seeing about three to four patients per day and we do four to six such procedures per week,” said Dr Soliman.
“We see people who have neglected their obesity until they have another disease causing a complication. They could be diabetic or suffering from hypertension and high cholesterol.”
Patients are usually eligible for bariatric surgery if they have body mass indices above 35, weigh 60 to 100 pounds more than their estimated ideal weights, or suffer from obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, reflux disease or sleep apnoea.
Bariatric surgical procedures cause weight loss by restricting the amount of food the stomach can hold.
The body mass index is a way to measure obesity by comparing someone’s height and weight against the ratios ideal for them.
Obese people also may have tried non-surgical weight-loss methods without success.
Dr Andrew Jenkinson, a consultant laparoscopic and obesity surgeon at American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Hospital in Dubai, said Emiratis and Arabs from the GCC made up 75 per cent of his weight-loss patients.
“Eighty per cent of the patients undergoing these procedures are women,” he said.
For the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure, the band is placed around the upper part of the stomach. It divides the stomach into a small pouch above the band and a larger one below it, limiting the amount of food that the patient can eat.
A sleeve gastrectomy uses staples to divide the stomach into two sections. About 85 to 90 per cent of the stomach is permanently removed, reducing the amount of food patients need to feel full.
In a gastric bypass, a small stomach pouch of 15 to 20 cubic centimetres is created. The rest of the stomach is stapled shut.
These surgeries present a 3 per cent chance of complications but they can be treated successfully with “appropriate and prompt” treatment, according to Dr Jenkinson.
“The long-term problem with these procedures, particularly the sleeve gastrectomy, is weight regain in 10 to 20 per cent of patients,” he said.
Faisal, a 40-year-old Emirati who manages a doctor’s office, said his cardiologist advised him to have a gastric bypass because of his weight.
He had his first heart attack when he was 28 and suffered two more by 38.
“My decision had nothing to do with aesthetics. Being overweight added the problems of cholesterol and diabetes,” said Faisal. “I opted for the gastric bypass, as it cures diabetes. And within a week after my operation, the diabetes was gone.”
Faisal, who was 116 kilograms two years ago, is now 72kg. But the aftermath of the operation was bittersweet, he said.
“I did not like the idea of an invasive surgery, although I like the fact that I can fit into a medium-size shirt, whereas earlier I would be looking for a double XL,” he said.
People who opt for invasive weight-loss surgeries should understand the side effects and post-operation requirements, Faisal said. “With a gastric bypass, you have to be aware of nutritional deficiencies and you have to take injections of vitamin B12 every month. And you need to take supplements and keep track of how much weight you have lost,” he said.
The effects of such surgeries can also be psychological. “When people do these operations they don’t understand you come to a point when you need to eat certain foods high in protein. People need to be aware of the fact that you will have mood changes,” he said.
© The NationalJan 2016