'Reduce weight with surgery'

Avatar Singh suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes for a long time and was on regular medication.

The reason was his obesity. After a surgery on April 3 this year, he reduced weight from 128 kg to 104 kg. His medication for BP and sugar has stopped. And he got all this free of cost.

The metabolic surgery clinic of Lok Nayak Hospital was started in March 2010 to treat patients who suffer from hypertension, diabetes and lack of sleep due to overweight.

It became the first state government-run hospital to introduce this surgery. Among other public hospitals, only All India Institute of Medical Sciences has a clinic in Delhi.

“The idea was to take this surgery to the poor. We get patients who are referred by our outpatient department as well as those who come through word of mouth,” said Dr Richa Dewan, medical superintendent, Lok Nayak Hospital.

So far 140 people have enrolled in the clinic and 34 have been through surgical processes. Person with maximum weight was Chinmaya who weighed 168 kgs and is now 120 kgs.

The youngest patient was a 19-year-old-girl whose weight reduced from 135 kg to 69 kg. Dr Pawanindra Lal, surgeon and head of the clinic has treated patients above 50 years of age too.

In a survey conducted by the Maulana Azad Medical College in the OPD of three government hospitals — LN, GB Pant, and Guru Nanak Hospital — it was found that 20 to 30 per cent of the lower and lower middle classes suffered from chronic medical problems like diabetes, hypertension and blood pressure.  It was seen that obesity was the direct cause of these metabolic diseases, making a case for starting the clinic.

The equipments used for the surgery costs between Rs 1.25-1.50 lakh which are provided free by the hospital.

“I went to a private hospital which quoted Rs 4.5 lakh for the surgery. Here it was done free of cost. I had to save Rs 3,000 a month on controlling sugar earlier,” said Rajeev, who lost 40 kgs in few months. His 1.5 litre of stomach was reduced to capacity of 150 ml.

There are three procedures for weight loss through metabolic surgery. First is banding,
in which stomach size is reduced without cutting it by adjusting a band. Second is sleeve gastrectomy in which up to 85 per cent of stomach is reduced by removing a big portion surgically.

Third is gastric bypass in which a big portion of food is made to bypass the intestine, reducing absorption of nutrients.

“Banding is safest and we have conducted it on 10 patients. But sleeve gastrectomy is more effective and that is what we perform on most of our patients,” said Lal.

He added that gastric bypass is recommended in Indian conditions because the intake of nutrients is already low in the country.

“Many people come here thinking they’ll get surgery done and will have flat tummy immediately. That does not happen. One has to follow a dietary regimen after the surgery and lose weight over a period of months,” said Lal.

He said the team in Lok Nayak’s clinic calls patients many time over before conducting the surgery to gauge their level of motivation.   

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