Abu Dhabi: An increased focus on healthier lifestyles and the greater number of hospitals offering bariatric (weight-loss) surgeries in the capital has resulted in a greater demand for related cosmetic procedures.

While weight loss itself helps improve the patient’s health, these cosmetic procedures are often essential to help improve the patient’s self-image and confidence levels, medical professionals told Gulf News.

“We know that a successful weight-loss surgery greatly improves patients’ chances of keeping at bay diabetes and risk of other lifestyle diseases. But mental wellbeing is dependent very much on how the patients perceive themselves, and this is where cosmetic procedures come in,” said Dr Tim Wolter, head of aesthetic and plastic surgery at multi-specialty hospital, Healthpoint Abu Dhabi.

The excess skin that remains after a bariatric procedure can also impinge on the patient’s private lives, added Dr Jeffrey Fairley, plastic surgery consultant at Al Noor Hospital.

“As more and more patients opt for weight-loss procedures to improve their lives, we have also seen an exponential increase over the last decade in the number of people who come in for related cosmetic procedures. In fact, 50 per cent of the cosmetic surgeries we perform at our hospital are post-weight-loss operations,” Dr Fairley said.

In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, lifestyle diseases are currently one of the greatest health care concerns. According to the latest statistics released by the health sector regulator, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad), nearly 33 per cent of men and 38 per cent of women are obese. What’s even more worrying is that 40 per cent of teenagers are also overweight.

Many patients who have struggled with their weight for a long time therefore opt for bariatric procedures. Afterwards, a variety of cosmetic surgeries are available, including tummy tucks, thigh lifts, arm lifts and chest reductions. Their need is determined based on the patient’s initial weight, and parts of the body where the patient has skin folds after weight loss.

On average, most patients need a set of three to four procedures to correct sagging skin and other concerns, and these can be performed after the patient’s weight has been stable for about 24 months.

Dr Wolter says his patients range in age from 18 to 60 years. “There is little risk involved, especially if the patient has been monitored closely after the weight-loss surgery and is doing well,” he said.

After the surgery, patients must wear compression garments for the arms, legs and trunks for a while, and some people may require touch-ups after six months or so.

“It is also important for patients to seek second opinions before opting for cosmetic surgery, and to ensure that the surgeon is qualified,” recommended Dr Fairley.