Paunch no longer a symbol of prosperity

March 6th, 2009 - 2:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, March 6 (IANS) Gone are the days when a paunch was seen as a sign of growing prosperity. More and more people are now embarrassed by the protuberance in the middle and want to get rid of the paunch. Medical options are readily available, too.
R. Padmakumar, a laparoscopic surgeon based at the Sunrise Hospital in Kochi, told reporters here Friday that the hospital was receiving “several inquiries as we are one of the few hospitals in South India that does cosmetic key hole surgery. This procedure changes the anatomy of one’s digestive system and limits the intake of food.

“In 2007 I did 25 bariatric (weight loss) surgeries. Last year it jumped close to 50. Now inquires from people are coming at an increasing rate,” said Padmakumar.

Studies have shown that Kerala is behind Punjab and Gujarat in terms of the number of obese people in the country. “But when it comes to abdominal obesity, Kerala is placed first and hence many are approaching me inquiring what these cosmetic surgeries for the stomach are all about,” said Padmakumar.

Explaining the different types of weight loss surgeries, the surgeon said the laparoscopic approach was highly effective, simple and safe.

The method uses an adjustable gastric band. The band is placed around the upper third portion of the stomach which makes one area small and the other large. Another procedure is known as sleeve gastrectomy, where the portion of the stomach that secretes grelin for appetite and acid for digestion is removed.

“In a matter of three days the patient is back to normal. The entire procedure costs around Rs.2 lakhs (Rs.200,000). Insurance companies do not reimburse patients for obesity related surgeries. Talks however have begun to ensure that these procedures are insured due to the number of diseases associated with obesity,” added Padmakumar.

A resident of a country in the Middle East, who had just undergone a surgery of this kind in Kochi, said she was feeling more comfortable post surgery.

“We came to know of this surgical procedure through a family friend and immediately flew down. I weighed 125 kilogrammes and after the surgery my weight came down to 90 kilogrammes. Next month I am going back to join my husband,” said the patient, who did not want to be identified.

Padmakumar added that inquiries have come from the Middle East after watching those who have undergone these surgeries.

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