CHENNAI: For people who are so morbidly obese that they sign up for bariatric surgery to bring their BMI down to semi-respectable levels, their love affair with food would have ground to a shrieking halt. After all, the essence of most bariatric processes is to make the stomach pouch so small that even having a glass of water, will make the person feel like they’ve had an unlimited meal in the average South Indian restaurant — aiding them to lose up to 50 percent of their body weight post surgery. Over the last 10 months, that notion has changed quite drastically.
With the introduction of Mini Gastric Bypass, a variant of the normal gastric bypass surgery, people who opt for it will at least be able to have a small meal and savour it. “We make the pouch a little bit larger and this sort of allows the patient to eat about two rotis and a little bit of vegetable or dal,” explains Dr C M Kishor Reddy, Consultant Bariatric Surgeon at Lifeline Rigid Hospital. This may seem a far cry from the four course gastronomic delight foodies dream of, but it’s better than starving till you’re size zero.
Unlike the normal gastric bypass surgery, where surgeons partition the stomach and make a small pouch of it, which is connected to the intestine, the mini version is a lot more complex. “We create a slightly larger pouch and a lining along the wall of the stomach, which is then attached to the lower intestine. Though there’s more space for food, the absorption is pretty low so there’s no weight gain,” he added.
Recently, the surgical team at the hospital operated on the son of a Sri Lankan MP Syed Ameer Ali, who weighed 172 kgs. A 10th grader in Colombo, young Afzaan Ali described how he wanted to lose weight, but didn’t want to give up his favourite foods. “I couldn’t really walk or run and that was pretty depressing. But I loved eating and I still do, so this makes sense to me,” he said.
Despite its relative youngness as a procedure in the country, patients are flocking to it. “Over the past 10 months, we have seen that at least 40-50 of the cases that we have done have said yes to trying this procedure.
The feedback we’re getting has been great as patients actually have the option of eating whatever they like, even if it’s a miniscule quantity,” said Dr J S Rajkumar, who has done over 1,000 bariatric surgeries including lap bands, gastric bypass and other techniques. The good part is that, despite being slightly more complex than the normal gastric bypass, it costs exactly the same — and actually has a quicker recovery time.