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Cutting the fat: More than 30,000 gastric sleeve surgeries in Saudi Arabia in 2020

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More than 30,000 bariatric gastric sleeve surgeries were performed in Saudi Arabia last year, with women making up 70 percent of patients who had undergone the weight-loss procedure, according to the latest statistics.

The Ministry of Health revealed to Al Arabiya that the number of gastric sleeve operations for obese patients performed by their hospitals numbered around 2,400 last year alone.

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The ministry said that the number of accredited obesity surgery centers in Saudi Arabia currently stands at 20 facilities, and those who have undergone these operations range in age from 18 to 65 years of age.

“The patient can practice his life normally after performing the sleeve gastrectomy and is less likely to have chronic diseases associated with obesity which may expose him or her to complications, and constitute a burden in the treatment costs for the patient like diabetes, pressure, high cholesterol and other chronic diseases,” the ministry said.

Dr. Ayed al-Qahtani, a professor and Consultant of Minimally Invasive and Obesity Surgery at College of Medicine King Saud University and King Khalid University Hospital, said that the number of sleeve gastrectomy operations in the Kingdom exceeded 30,000 operations per year, at prices close to 20,000 Saudi riyals ($5,300) depending on the health condition of the patient, with women making up the majority of those seeking the weight-loss operation.

In 2014, a report from the Saudi Diabetes and Endocrine Association (SDEA) said the number of deaths in the Kingdom of obesity-related diseases had reached 20,000 annually.

Surgical weight loss has gained traction in recent years across the world as extremely obese patients turn to it after failing to lose weight through diet, exercise or medication, according to a Reuters report.

The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass can reduce the size of the stomach from about three pints to roughly the size of a shot glass while sleeve gastrectomy procedure can reduce the stomach to the size of a banana.

With both procedures, according to a Reuters report, patients can lose a substantial amount of weight in the first year after surgery – about 23 percent to 29 percent of total body weight – then rebounded somewhat. At five years post-surgery, gastric bypass patients maintained an average loss of 24 percent of body weight while sleeve gastrectomy patients had a 17 percent loss.

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