More than 2,000 patients have undergone weight loss surgery at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) since 2011, it was revealed at the inaugural Qatar International Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Summit (QIMBSS) held in Doha recently.

The summit, hosted by HMC, saw 30 international speakers and more than 250 participants from Qatar and the region gather to discuss the latest techniques in metabolic and bariatric surgery.

HMC’s Director of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and Director of the Summit, Dr Moataz Bashah, highlighted that more than 30% of the Qatari population are obese largely due to unhealthy eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle. This has led to an increased number of people turning to bariatric surgery as a solution.

Commenting on the demographics associated with bariatric surgery in Qatar, Dr Bashah noted that about 70% of Qatari patients seeking treatment for obesity at HMC are women. Diabetic patients also often seek bariatric surgery to help with obesity with 60% to 70% of diabetic patients treated at HMC.

Bariatric surgery is a treatment used to help patients with extreme obesity to lose weight. It involves operating on the stomach and/or intestines and is an option for people who are unable to lose weight by other means, such as diet and exercise, or have serious obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Patients who have undergone bariatic surgery at an early stage of their diabetes can generally expect better outcomes, but the long-term success of the treatment largely depends on the patient’s commitment to the prescribed post-operative diet and exercise regimen. Dr Bashah said:

Unfortunately, there are some patients who fail to comply with this regimen and end up regaining weight and coming back for revision surgery after two to three years.’

He commented that revision surgery, particularly if done more than once, can result in complications. He also warned against undergoing bariatric surgery abroad, highlighting that there have been a significant number of complications sustained by patients following overseas procedures due to poor clinical follow-up after their surgeries.

Speaking about bariatric surgery techniques used to help treat obesity at HMC, Dr Bashah stated that HMC is the first healthcare provider in the Middle East to use the minimally invasive Apollo Endosurgery technique which uses bodily orifices such as the mouth to operate on targeted areas.

The summit was attended by multidisciplinary professionals including surgeons, endoscopists, endocrinologists, nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists, and featured a number of presentations, panel discussions and live surgery sessions. Dr Bashah said:

The summit is one of the biggest of its kind in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. There is a lot of interest internationally in exchanging ideas and expertise in the field of bariatrics. Hosting the summit boosts our efforts to tackle the major and growing problem of obesity in Qatar.’

Some of the international speakers at the conference included Professor Rudolf Weiner, 2014 Chairman of the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO); Dr Karl A Miller, 2015 Chairman of the IFSO; Professor Antonio José Torres, former IFSO Chairman; and Dr Jaime Ponce, former President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.