When an Egyptian national weighing 500 kg, touted as the world’s heaviest woman, was brought to a Mumbai-based hospital a couple of days ago to help her lose extra weight through surgical procedure, the incident grabbed the attention of many.
Back home in Chandigarh, more cases of people going under the knife to lose the flab are being reported, with the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) having performed nearly 150 bariatric surgeries in the past five years. The first surgery was performed at the institute in June 2012.
Of the 30 surgeries performed in the past one year, 7-8 of them have been done this year only, PGIMER doctors said. Of these, 12 patients were from the tricity and surrounding areas. Two persons will undergo surgery on February 21, with five-six patients being examined for the same at the institute.
For 29-year-old Reena (name changed) of Ambala, who entered adulthood with the obese tag, losing 50 kilogram in a year through bariatric surgery at the PGIMER was no less than a transformation.
She underwent the surgery on January 16, 2016, when she weighed 135 kg.
“The surgery not only helped me shedding the extra kilos but I also got rid of so many inferiority complex. I want to lose 20 kg more. Now I am a confident and happy person,” said Reena with a broad smile on her face.
Thirty two-year-old Sabina (name changed) from Mumbai came to the PGIMER after one of her relatives underwent the knife here. She met the institute’s doctors and also found the treatment economic.
Sabina, who started gaining weight due to hypothyroidism, has lost 38 kg in two years. She grew up as an introvert and lazy person who would get easily annoyed and avoided socialising.
“I was 160 kg at the time of the surgery. Before I underwent surgery, I tried everything from hitting the gym, yoga and swimming, but nothing helped. Now I feel happy and energetic,” she says.
Dr Rajesh Gupta, professor, division of surgical gastroenterology, department of general surgery, PGIMER, who has conducted over 100 surgeries, said, “This can be performed in two ways — sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass (roux-en-Y). Here we perform sleeve gastrectomy, which is equally effective, technically simple and less complicated.”
In sleeve gastrectomy, the stomach capacity is reduced from 1.5 litres to 100-150ml. The surgery takes one to three hours and costs between Rs 75, 000 and Rs 1 lakh at the PGIMER.
One loses 30% of weight in three months of surgery, 50% in six months and 70% in one year. The person loses more weight in the next 2-3 years.
“One should be aged at least 18 since bones have fully developed by then. But if a child is obese for 10 years even at the age of 15, we can’t wait as he is likely to have cardiac problem or high-blood pressure,” said Dr Gupta.
The weight loss also helps normalise blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipid levels besides curing sleep apnea. It also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
More women opting for surgery than men
“Of the more than 100 patients I have operated, 90 were women. It is not that men are not obese but the problem is that it is difficult to convince men for surgery. Moreover, many of them are not ready to quit alcohol, eating sweets which they have to after the surgery,” Dr Gupta said.
“People who work hard to lose weight but are not successful, surgery is a good option. It is an accepted treatment for metabolic syndrome as well,” he said.