For optimal treatment, avoid foreign weight-loss surgery, expert urge Nigerians

Managing Director Redwood Consulting Ltd, Mrs. Hannah Oyebanjo (Left); Consultant Surgeon and Lead Surgeon of the Bariatric Unit, University College London Hospital; Dr. Marco Adamo; Medical Director, EURACARE Multi-specialist Hospital, Lagos, Dr. Tosin Majekodunmi and Consultant General and Laparoscopic Surgeon at St John and St Elizabeth Hospital, London, Dr. Abuchi Okaro who were in Nigeria to perform gastric by-pass surgical operation in Lagos.

Nigerians that are desirous of optimal treatment for weight-loss surgery have been strongly advised to opt for the best available medical facilities in the country instead of rushing abroad.

A London-based expert consultant in weight-loss Laparoscopic Surgeon, Dr. Abuchi Okaro, gave the advice recently in Lagos at the end of a gastric by-pass surgical operation with a colleague, Dr. Marco Adamo.

Okaro explained that while the laparoscopic single anastomosis gastric by-pass was the first he performed in Nigeria, he had done close to 250 Lap gastric sleeves and gastric balloon procedures in Nigeria since 2011 with patients achieving their objectives of weight-loss and control of diabetes and high blood pressure control.

Dr. Okaro stated that patients still need to be reminded that each surgery, including the one that tackles excessive weight, is a journey.

He said: “The surgery does not cure the disease; it is a tool and part of the cure.”

He further explained: “The patient will constantly need to interact with other team members or professionals like the nutritionists who understand types of food, local dietary culture to advice and monitor patients to ensure safe weight loss and health management. This is a major obstacle for those patients who choose to go abroad for treatment as follow up can be difficult and patchy.’’
Corroborating Okaro’s views, Adamo an Italian used a scenario in London, his base, to point out why it might not be easy for most medical ‘tourist’ locations to meet the needs of most patients.

His words: “For instance, in London we have more than 20 different types of dieticians to satisfy various cultures, religions and beliefs as patients manage their health in the recovery process after any metabolic surgery. This is because we have peculiar concerns for various races and cultures even within the city. It might not be the same in most of other hospitals and cities”.
Speaking on the level of growth of weight reduction surgery in Nigeria, Okaro, explained that there are some challenges, mostly in the area of awareness.

He said: “A lot of education is still needed for the average Nigerian to know that there are benefits to such surgery available in the medical world which Nigerians can also use to reduce weight. Secondly, and more importantly, the need for the awareness that this surgery is available and accessible here in Nigeria. However, we still have to note that some Nigerians know about metabolic surgery and they have been travelling abroad in good numbers for this procedure”.

Commenting on the edge laparoscopic surgery provides, Okaro said, “Patients do not really need large cuts during the surgery and that means less pain after the procedure, which most people prefer.

“Another advantage is that with less pain the patient get better faster and some can go home even on the day of the surgery.

“Within the system, the advantage is that the surgery is always projected on the screen so you get a bigger image for what is done and everyone in the theatre can follow and learn more about what is done through the video system”.

Asked why this practice with so many advantages has not been deployed widely in most teaching or general hospitals in Nigeria, the surgeon identified skills deficiency and cost of equipment as key obstacles.

He said: “A lot of expertise and training is required in this area and we have experienced huge deficiencies lately in the area of medical skill development and capacity within our country. Another factor is the cost of equipment: the monitors and other tools require huge investment. These two key factors and a few others have impeded the more widespread use of advanced laparoscopic gastro-intestinal surgery in Nigeria”.

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Abuchi OkaroMarco Adamo
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