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Al Emadi Hospital at the forefront of bariatric surgeries in Qatar
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Al Emadi Hospital at the forefront of bariatric surgeries in Qatar

Obesity levels in the Qatari society have gone up significantly in the recent past, and Qatar is now ranked fifth in the world and second in the Gulf region to witness a substantial rise in the obesity index, Dr. Ayman Obaid, Consultant General Surgery, Bariatric and Laparoscopic Surgery at Al Emadi Hospital, has said.
Dr. Obaid pointed out that under the helm of Dr. Mohammed Al Emadi, the hospital is at the forefront of carrying out bariatric surgeries and has successfully carried out 8,000 surgeries so far. Al Emadi Hospital has a fully-equipped professional medical staff that is considered the most competent and experienced in the region.
In an interview, Dr. Obaid, a graduate of the American University of Beirut and the University of Alabama in the United States, and a member of the American Society of Bariatric Surgery, discussed the causes of obesity and the latest surgical and non-surgical advancements and methods in its treatment. Excerpts of the interview: 

What are the main causes of obesity in general, and in Qatar in particular?
Unfortunately, obesity has become an epidemic in general, and in Qatar in particular. The levels of obesity in the Qatari society has skyrocketed and this can be attributed to many reasons. These include unhealthy lifestyle which ultimately plays a detrimental role, especially with the consumption of large proportion of high-calorie and unhealthy food. This adds up to about 90% of the reasons of obesity. Some people suffer due to insufficient and irregular gland activity or, in rare cases, due to genetic diseases.

What are the latest surgical and non-surgical methods to treat obesity?
The treatment of obesity lies in the basic principle of reducing the calorie intake so that the body is able to burn substantial fat mass. Several methods are used to achieve this, including some non-surgical ones such as adhering to a specific diet that promotes healthy eating as well as exercising. Certain hormonal drugs can also be prescribed, which are injected under the skin. They work to suppress the appetite, which in turn leads to reducing the food intake during the day.
As for surgical methods, they are constantly evolving, such as gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, gastric ring, gastric balloon and gastric botox. Gastric sleeve and gastric bypass operations are the most common and available surgical methods and are also the most successful in achieving the desired results.
When do you recommend the surgical methods to treat obesity?
We only recommend surgical intervention when its benefits outweigh its risks. Usually, the decision is informed by the patient’s body mass and excess fat mass. We usually rely on a specific equation (weight ÷ square) to determine the eligibility of the patient. As for age restrictions, bariatric surgeries can be performed on patients from various age groups. We usually refrain from performing such surgeries on children under the age of puberty. Otherwise it can be performed on any patient under the age of 64, and as long as they have no other health ailments.

Do complications arise when performing these type of surgeries?
There is no surgical procedure without complications. We inform our patients about the complications and risks that could arise during surgery. We try to be as transparent as possible with our patients so that they can make informed decisions.

What advice do you offer to patients for post-surgical care?
In order for the patient to achieve the desired post-surgical results, it’s necessary to follow a specific diet and to adhere to our instructions for a period of six weeks. After that, the digestive system of the patient returns to its normal functions. The patient starts noticing the gradual loss of excess weight over a period of 9-12 months.
Also, patients must realise that the desired 
results will not come overnight and that the surgery is a catalyst in weight loss that goes hand-in-hand with leading a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy and exercising.

What are the benefits and risks of carrying out stomach balloon surgery?
The stomach balloon is a surgical procedure utilised in treating obesity. It’s also a surgical procedure that could present a host of risks and complications. The stomach balloon is inflated with air or by using a special liquid and is then installed in the stomach to decrease the patients’ capacity to eat more. It’s generally installed for a couple of months, and is then removed or is dissolved organically. About 30% of the patients utilise this specific procedure and decide to remove it in about 10 days or less after installation, as they have a hard time acclimating to the presence of the balloon in their stomach.
 The balloon generally helps patients lose weight by 10-15 kg if it is kept in the stomach for 2 to 3 months. However, after removing it,  the stomach returns to its original size and capacity, which enables the patient to consume large amounts of food again leading to undesired weight again.

Do you recommend diets such as keto for weight loss?
The keto diet might be suitable for a certain category of obese patients who do not suffer from renal impairment or the presence of blood albumin, since the success of this diet is dependent on the high intake of protein. Those who wish to follow this type of diet should consult a doctor or dietitian first so that some tests could be carried out to determine if the patient is a right fit or not.

What is the overall obesity rate in Qatar?
According to 2012 statistics, 70% of the Qatari citizens are overweight, 71% of whom are men and 68% are women; the obesity index in this category is above 25 kg/m², and 41% of Qatari nationals are morbidly obese. Another study conducted in 2013 showed that 22% of females under the age of 20 and 33.5% of males of the same age are morbidly obese. Qatar ranks fifth in the world among nations that suffer from a high rate of obesity, and second in the Gulf region after Kuwait. About 16% of Qatar’s citizens suffer from diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity.

What are the diseases caused by obesity?
Obeisty is a catalyst in a large number of diseases including diabetes (type 2), heart problems, atherosclerosis, hypertension, kidney failure, cancer, stroke, low fertility, irregular menstrual cycle, difficulty in breathing, sleep apnea, headache (migraine, high cholesterol), high liver fat, gout, osteoporosis and arthritis. In obesity-related diseases, excess weight loss reduces mortality by 89% over a five-year period.

What are the diseases that cause obesity?
There are a limited number of diseases that cause obesity, including hypothyroidism and some rare hereditary conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome and cases such as cushing syndrome. However, the percentage of those who are obese as a result of these diseases does not exceed 1% of the percentage of those who are obese. We find that most patients are more obese than others as a result of poor diet and exercise.

How many obesity-related operations and surgeries are carried out at Al-Emadi Hospital on a daily basis?
Some 4 to 10 operations on a daily basis, and the weight of patients who undergo these operations tend to reach 200kg, i.e. their obesity index is higher than 60.
What is the percentage of possible complications in performing obesity operations?
The rate of complications, as globally accepted and recognised, is 3-1%, while the rate at 
Al Emadi Hospital does not exceed 0.1%, i.e. 
an average of one patient per 1,000 patients. The most serious potential complications that could arise are the presence of leakage in the operated area of the stomach or a development of clotting in the lungs, which can lead to respiratory cessation. We utilise the most advanced and safe methods during surgery to reduce the possibility of the occurrence of these complications during surgery. 
Patients are always advised to perform operations in their place of residence so that adequate periodic follow-ups with the surgeon who perform the operation can be carried out. Studies have shown that the result of the process in terms of weight loss is directly related to periodic follow-ups with the surgeon.

Finally, what distinguishes Al Emadi Hospital from other obesity treatment hospitals?
We have the vast experience of the medical staff specialised in conducting these types of operations led by Dr. Mohammed Al Emadi, who has a long history in the battle against obesity, as well as the presence of a distinguished nursing staff and anesthesia team that has the expertise and competence. This is in addition to following the standards globally, especially in the United States, for the treatment of obesity, and the use of the most-advanced medical equipment and safety tools in this area.
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