Complex Made Simple

1000 obese patients given fresh start at Abu Dhabi’s flagship SKMC

SKMC’s Bariatric & Metabolic Institute provides most comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to morbid obesity

1000 patients suffering from morbid obesity have been given a fresh start, thanks to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City’s Bariatric & Metabolic Institute in Abu Dhabi (BMI Abu Dhabi).

Last month the institute completed 1000 bariatric operations since its inception in 2009, conducting not only primary operations but also taking care of complications referred from other hospitals, as well as patients who need corrective surgery.

Bariatric surgery, known generally as weight-loss surgery, can help save patients’ lives if they haven’t been able to lose weight by other means, according to the director of BMI Abu Dhabi, Dr. Abdelrahman Nimeri.

“We are not a one man show and have a strong multidisciplinary team to approach patients from all facets of their disease – we have surgeons, physicians, dietitians, psychologists, cardiologists and even offer a smoking cessation specialist among many other team members, and we evaluate patients as a whole not just from a surgical component,” Dr Nimeri said.

“In fact, using this approach we’ve been able to publish a study on the rate of colonic polyps – a precursor to colon cancer – in patients with a high body mass index (BMI), as we screen all of our patients for it,” he added.

Health officials generally define overweight people as those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 29, and obese people as those with a BMI of more than 30. People with a BMI of 30 – 32, are three times as likely to die from heart disease as people in a healthy weight range, while those with a BMI of 33 and above are almost five times as likely. Higher BMI levels also increase risks associated with cancer, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and a range of other conditions.

Over 80% of BMI Abu Dhabi’s patients are women and more than 85% Emirati, with an average BMI of 48 to 49, according to Dr Nimeri.

“Surgery is the very last resort, and we also offer non-surgical means for people who don’t qualify for surgery. We also provide lifelong therapy to our patients after surgery: they are seen six times in the first year after surgery, and then yearly for life in order to continually monitor them,” he said.

Though each procedure is different, up to 30% of patients can regain a significant amount of weight if they do not follow the treatment regimen outlined by the team.

“It’s not just weight gain that we’re concerned about. Close to 70% of our patients with Type 2 diabetes can almost completely reverse the effects of the disease following surgery as long as they strictly follow our orders. This is why we follow our patients for life,” Dr Nimeri said. “When you look at the impact on health for someone who comes in to our program who is morbidly obese, smokes, has high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and so on, the long term effect on their health post-intervention is tremendous,” he added.

Weight loss patient selection at BMI Abu Dhabi, SKMC’s program focused on addressing obesity, is carried out under the guidelines established by The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the American Society of Bariatric Surgery.

Bariatric surgery promotes weight loss through two different methods; the first method involves limiting the amount of food that can be eaten by making the stomach smaller, while in the second method, the amount of calories that can be absorbed is reduced.

BMI Abu Dhabi is the main tertiary referral centre for bariatric surgery complications and difficult bariatric surgery patients in Abu Dhabi and provides the most comprehensive program in the UAE that offers all the range of surgical procedures in a minimally invasive fashion. These surgical procedures include the gastric bypass surgery – the most common procedure performed in the US and Europe – gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and revisional bariatric surgery.

Our complication rates are low. We have a comparison of outcomes of Weight loss surgery conducted at SKMC to US bariatric surgery program published in the Journal of American College of Surgeons. In this comparison, we had lower mortality than US Bariatric surgery program. So SKMC is most certainly providing the highest possible quality care to our patients,” he concluded.

SKMC is part of the SEHA HealthSystem and is managed by Cleveland Clinic.