2000 operations conducted in 2023

Duhok sees surge in stomach reduction surgeries

DUHOK — In response to a marked increase in obesity rates globally, Duhok has observed a significant uptick in the number of individuals opting for stomach reduction surgery, a trend that mirrors the rising reliance on bariatric procedures worldwide. According to health statistics from Duhok, last year alone, 2,000 citizens underwent such surgeries. “We perform at least four stomach reduction surgeries daily,” a doctor reported, highlighting the local medical community’s response to a global epidemic that the World Health Organization has identified, with obesity rates nearly tripling since 1975.

Globally, the number of bariatric surgeries, including stomach reduction procedures, has surged. This upswing is largely attributed to the increasing prevalence of obesity and the recognition of surgical intervention as an effective remedy for managing severe obesity and related health conditions. In Duhok, the medical sector is witnessing a similar pattern, where traditional methods like diet and exercise have fallen short, and surgery offers a viable solution for significant weight loss.

“The interest in this type of surgery has not waned but instead, we are now performing two types of stomach reduction surgeries: stomach reduction and changing the stomach tract,” detailed a doctor.

The surgeries are conducted at two private hospitals within the province, indicating a sustained interest in these life-altering procedures. Specifically, there are two primary types of stomach reduction surgeries available: Gastric Sleeve (Sleeve Gastrectomy) and Gastric Bypass (Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass). Gastric Sleeve surgery involves the removal of approximately 80% of the stomach, creating a smaller, banana-shaped stomach that limits food intake and reduces hunger. Gastric Bypass is a more complex surgery that creates a small pouch in the stomach and connects it directly to the small intestine, significantly reducing the amount of food that can be consumed and the calories absorbed.

These surgeries aim to assist patients with obesity in losing significant weight, thereby potentially resolving or alleviating obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, and certain cardiovascular diseases. However, while these procedures are generally safe, they carry risks like any major surgery. Short-term complications can include infection, bleeding, and blood clots, while long-term risks may involve nutritional deficiencies, necessitating lifelong supplementation, along with potential issues such as gallstones and hernias.

In 2023 alone, approximately 1,550 surgeries were performed in just one of the private hospitals, attesting to the high demand. Dr. Ayad Ahmad, a specialist in general surgery, commented on the trend: “Gastric reduction surgery in Duhok has seen an increase. Our team performs at least four surgeries daily, and there have been days when we conducted up to 10 surgeries.”

Dr. Ahmad’s team, comprising two doctors and four surgical assistants, has been at the forefront of this effort for more than six years, indicating a well-established practice in addressing obesity through surgical means. “Most of the individuals undergoing surgery range from 35 to 70 years of age, and the majority are women,” he added.

Dr. Ahmad also noted the positive outcomes post-surgery, “[Many] patients do not retain diabetes or hypertension following stomach reduction surgery, but they must continuously take vitamins.”

Previously, stomach reduction surgeries were available in public hospitals, but the lack of necessary equipment and supplies halted these operations. Currently, only two private hospitals in Duhok offer these surgeries, with costs reaching up to $4,000.

This shift to private facilities underscores the challenges and costs associated with accessing treatments for obesity in the public healthcare system, reflecting a broader global issue in the response to the obesity epidemic.

The increasing reliance on stomach reduction surgeries in Duhok and globally speaks volumes about the ongoing battle against obesity and its health implications. These surgical interventions represent a critical tool for those struggling with severe obesity, providing a means to achieve significant weight loss and improve quality of life. Nonetheless, the journey doesn’t end with surgery; it requires a lifelong commitment to dietary and lifestyle changes to maintain the benefits and mitigate risks.

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