Words by Dr. Samir Rahmani, Consultant Laparoscopic, Bariatric and General Surgeon, Novomed Hospital and Centres
For many years, the long-term success rates for those who attempt to lose excess body weight have hovered around 5-10 percent. In what other disease condition would we accept these numbers and continue on with the same approach? How does this situation sustain itself?
It continues because the diet industry has generated marketing fodder that obscures scientific evidence. There is a gap between what is true and what sells (remember the chocolate diet?). And, what sells more often dominates the message for consumers. As a result, the public is often directed to attractive, short-cut weight loss options created for the purposes of making money, while scientists and doctors document facts that are left in the shadows.
We are living in a unique time, though – the era of metabolic surgeries, bariatric procedures and world first weight loss devices. As a result of these weight loss procedures and innovations, doctors have a much better understanding of the biological underpinnings responsible for the failure to lose weight and what is necessary to ensure safe, successful and long term weight loss success. These discoveries have and will continue to upend the current paradigms around weight loss, and now is the time to pull back the curtain.
As a Consultant Laparoscopic, Bariatric and General Surgeon, I have witnessed the experience of successful weight loss over and over again – and I work with a variety of innovative techniques that include minimally invasive and surgical weight loss procedures, as well as specializing in treating weight-related issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, sleep apnea, snoring, infertility, ovarian cysts and more. And with this in mind, the road to sustained transformation is not the same in 2021 as it was in 2018, 2008, 1998 or 1988. The medical community has identified the barriers to successful weight loss, and we can now address them.
Here are five new medical solutions to weight loss to research and explore if you are looking to lose weight safely and successfully long term.
- Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Gastric Sleeve Surgery is an option for individuals whose BMI is higher than 30. However, it is more preferable for much higher BMI’s, so 35 and above, especially with patients suffering obesity. This surgery allows for the eradication of the fatty cells and the expected average is 25% total body weight loss. It is usually not a recommended course of action for patients with higher risks undergoing surgeries such as those with cardiac issues. It must be noted that this is an irreversible procedure.
- Endoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy (ESG)
ESG is a minimal invasive-endoscopic procedure where a percentage of the stomach volume is reduced which results in 15 to 20% total body weight loss. Patients with at least one to two underlying health issues exacerbated by increased weight can opt for this surgery, as a way to aid weight loss. Much like the Gastric Sleeve Surgery, this option also cannot be reversed.
- Allurion’s Program
Sometimes dieting is not enough and for my patients who suffer from portion control and are looking to lose between 10 – 15kg, the Allurion Program allows them to achieve success and take a break from dieting and that all too familiar feeling of hunger. This program is the world’s first and only weight loss device that requires no surgery, endoscopy, or anaesthesia. It is a swallowable pill that expands in the stomach to around the size of a grapefruit and allows patients to lose an average of 10 to 15% after approximately 16 weeks. The Allurion Program combines its high-tech gastric balloon solution with a full package of support to help its patients develop good lifestyle habits that can remain with them long after their balloon has gone. Patients benefit from six months of dietary support from a nutritionist to ensure lasting lifestyle changes alongside an Allurion body composition scale, health tracker watch and mobile app. To date, Allurion has helped over 60,000 patients worldwide and has just announced that it is now approved for 16 – 65 years-olds and will provide a proven solution for teenagers in the UAE.
By combining a high-tech balloon solution with a full package of support to help patients develop good lifestyle habits that can remain with them long after their balloon has gone, The Allurion Program results in more weight loss than diet or exercise alone. One clinical study with 509 patients showed that 95% of average weight loss with Allurion can be sustained at the 12 month follow up. Furthermore, in a study of 42 patients, the average weight loss with two sequential Allurion Balloons (formerly known as the Elipse Gastric Balloon) was 22.8% total body weight loss. The maximum weight loss achieved was 40.9% body weight loss in 12 months. A temporary balloon does not mean temporary weight loss.
The procedure, usually recommended for patients with higher BMIs, who consume copious amounts of carbs and sweets, targets the absorption mechanism and requires the patient to go on a course of vitamins supplements long term (up to five years) to compensate for their bodies lack of absorbability. Bypass is a surgery, hence not a recommended course of action for patients with higher risks undergoing surgeries such as those with cardiac issues.
- Injections (Saxenda)
Saxenda is an approved medication used as an option for patients who want to get rid of moderate to excess weight. It’s recommended to use Saxenda in conjunction with the different weight loss solutions depending on the candidate as injections are not sustainable for all due to their side effects.