PESHAWAR: Experts have debunked myths that bariatric surgery is unnecessary and entails complications and that obesity returns after the surgery, but insisted that the surgical procedure should be performed by the right person at the right time.

“The people with obesity face serious problems. Obesity has become a major public health issue but the people are yet to fully benefit from the latest form of surgery already started in public sector hospitals,” provincial general secretary of the Pakistan Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons Prof Mohammad Zarin told Dawn.

He said there were misconceptions that it was unnecessary to undergo bariatric surgery as it could prove dangerous and the people could again experience obesity.

“Obesity causes high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, high cholesterol, cancer and arthritis, so it is important to undergo surgery to get rid of it,” he said.

Insist bariatric surgery effective answer to corpulence

Prof Zarin said there were no proper medicines to control obesity, but after the research of five decades, health experts had introduced bariatric surgery, which effectively controlled obesity.

Prof Zarin, a laparoscopic surgeon at the Khyber Teaching Hospital, told Dawn that bariatric surgery was not dangerous nor were there any chances of the people regaining weight after undergoing surgery.

“In June 2013, the American Medical Association House of Delegates voted to recognise obesity as a disease requiring treatment and prevention efforts, so once labelled as disease, obesity needs treatment, and bariatric surgery is its best treatment when indicated,” he said.

The surgeon said obesity or metabolic syndrome was a complex disease and wasn’t just a cosmetic concern and it increased the risk of other problems like diabetes, and caused blood pressure, arthritis, chest and cardiac issues, infertility and certain cancers.

“Bariatric surgery isn’t unnecessary but it’s the utmost need for patients having obesity. It is the surgical treatment of a disease, so it can have complications just like other surgical procedures, but it isn’t dangerous if carried out by trained advanced laparoscopic, robotic and bariatric surgeon in well-equipped health facility having all specialists like nutritionist, diabetologist, psychiatrist, pulmonologist, cardiologist and anesthesiologist,” he said.

Prof Zarin said that complications could be handled in a scientific way to achieve good outcomes.

“Regaining weight after surgery is one of the complications of bariatric surgery and can happen in 10-15 per cent of patients but these figures can be minimised by choosing the right patient for the right procedure,” he said.

The expert said regular follow-up and adherence to the diet plan could help reduce the chances of weight regain.

He said if a patient regained weight despite all those measures, the surgery could be repeated.

Prof Zarin said globally, 13 per cent of adults were obese and 39 per cent adults were overweight, whereas one in five children was overweight.

He said Pakistan ranked 144 in the Global Obesity Observatory with 6.26 per cent of obese men, 166 with 11.7 per cent of such adult women, 151 with 3.6 per cent of boys and 181 with 2.52 per cent of girls.

Secretary of the society’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter Dr Mohammad Zarin said obesity was “spreading like a pandemic” and it could be controlled by surgery.

He said it was alarming to see people lose life to obesity at a young age.

“Bariatric surgery has been performed globally for the last 25 years putting the brakes on many diseases,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2023

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