Doctors at NMC Royal Hospital are growing increasingly concerned about the number of people being treated for obesity-related health conditions, treating 63 patients in July.
Operations on morbidly obese patients is increasing by more than 5,000 cases a year, said the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute Abu Dhabi at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.
In Dubai, half of all bariatric operations done at Rashid Hospital are sleeve gastrectomies, where doctors remove 75 to 80 per cent of the patient’s stomach. Recent surgical advances now eliminate hunger hormone production by reducing stomach volume, to reduce the patient’s appetite.
More than 98 per cent of such operations are performed laparoscopically, with an average of just five small incisions performed under general anaesthetic. This is also known as keyhole surgery.
Surgery costs up to Dh50,000, with further costs for cosmetic operations to remove excess skin once weight loss is achieved.
Operations can cut the risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes in morbidly obese patients who have failed to lose weight via traditional means but they are rarely covered by health insurance.
Between 2009 and 2015, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City’s institute received 940 bariatric surgery cases.
Most patients are in hospital for just 48 hours and lose between 50 to 80 per cent of their excess weight in the first 12 months.
Despite surgical success and immediate weight loss, in some cases patients can put on weight again within 2 to 6 years without making drastic long-term lifestyle alterations relating to diet and exercise.