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The master of scar-free bariatic surgery

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Dr Muffazal Lakdawala is the Chairman of Institute of Minimal Access Surgical Sciences and Research Centre at South Mumbai's Saifee Hospital and is also the founder of Centre for Obesity and Digestive Surgery, the first Indian Centre for Excellence in bariatric surgery. Dr Lakdwala is famous for his work and was in the news, nationally and internationally, this year for his treatment of Egyptian national Emaan Ahmad, the world’s heaviest woman, who reached out to him with a heartfelt appeal to help save her life. Dr Lakdawala arranged for her to travel from Alexandria in Egypt to Saifee Hospital, where he assembled a team of experts to work with him on the case. Under his care, Emaan’s weight reduced from 500 to 176 kg. The renowned medical professional is also the President of IFSO- Asia Pacific chapter. In his career spanning 15 years, Dr Lakdawala has conducted numerous surgeries, in India, and abroad. Lakdawala is a trained laparoscopic surgeon and specialises in bariatric surgery and GI oncology surgery. He is known internationally for his pioneering work in the field of scar-free bariatric surgery and is a keen researcher in the field of diabetes surgery. A graduate from the prestigious Grant Medical College, he earned his Masters degree in surgery from BYL Nair Hospital. Having acquired international exposure, in the USA and Belgium, he has also trained in advanced colorectal cancer surgery in Seoul, South Korea. His debut book, The Eat-Right Prescription, was a bestseller. His TEDx talk on the dangers of sugar in 2016 was very well-received. Winner of the distinguished Lokmat Maharashtrian Of The Year 2017 award in the field of medicine, the eminent doctor speaks to ADC's Prachi Sonawane. He discusses his contribution to society and his untiring and dedicated efforts in the field of bariatric surgery

What does bariatric surgery mean?
Bariatric surgery is a term used to describe weight loss surgery which produces significant health benefits with morbid obesity. It is different from cosmetic surgery such as abdominoplasty, tummy tuck or liposuction which is used for body contouring. Bariatric surgery results in massive amounts of sustained weight loss with remission of diseases caused by obesity such as Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Dyslipidemia, sleep apnea, gout, gastro-oesophageal disease, osteoarthritis etc. Hence it is now also called metabolic surgery.

Can bariatric surgery help improve any existing health condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or sleep apnea?
As mentioned earlier it either cures or controls most of these diseases and hence prevents complications and leads to longer, healthier lives. The remission rates depend on the type of surgery but on an average 85% of T2DM is controlled, 65% of hypertension, 80% of dyslipidaemia, 65% of sleep apnea.

What are the different types of bariatric surgeries available?
The most common ones are Sleeve Gastrectomy, Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass, Only anastomosis Gastric Bypass also commonly called the Mini Gastric Bypass, the uncommon one's practices are the SADI-S and the Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty.

Do you think the comforts of modern life are proving to be a health hazard?
We as Indians and Asians have a Thrifty Gene which makes us susceptible to siseases like Metabolic Syndrome at much lower weights. We have more abdominal or visceral obesity as compared to the Caucasian population and hence the fast food with stress levels of modern lifestyle combine to an obesity epidemic.

Why did you choose to become bariatric surgeon?
I would have either become a cricketer or a surgeon and in surgery, I always wanted to be a gastro surgeon. When I started bariatric surgery, there were hardly any surgeons practising this surgery in India and those who did mostly did it with open surgery. I took it up as a challenge and here we are today. To me, it is the only surgery amongst all surgeries that give back a patient not only his life but makes it worth living for.

Tell us about Maha-Parivartan scheme?
This is a great initiative by the Govt. of Maharashtra to help the poor and backward of society. Most of these patients have to wait for long periods of time to get a surgery done at a public hospital, moreso in the field of metabolic surgery there are few government hospitals that practice it. This initiative gives the poor patients a chance to be treated by the best in the business at good corporate hospitals. Special credit goes to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, health minister Deepak Savant and Minister for Medical Education Girish Mahajan.

The most memorable surgery you have done?
Many, but the one done on the most obese female in the world stands out as it was done successfully despite the odds stacked against us. Another particularly satisfying surgery was that of pancreatic cancer, we operated laparoscopically on a young lady who came back three years later with her child and wanted to name him after me as she felt I was the reason why she was alive to enjoy this happiness.

If not in the current profession, you would be?
Cricketer. Who knows but there was no IPL during my times.

What is your message in general to people about maintaining good health?
Please stay away from sugar and sugar substitutes, exercise at least thrice a week to live a fitter healthier and more meaningful life. Moderation is the key!

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