Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 August 2020

Abu Dhabi teacher sheds almost 25kg after weight loss surgery plea is answered

Shannon Pipes, 35, asked for help as her insurers would not cover the cost of an operation

Shannon Pipes said she was delighted with her surgery. Victor Besa / The National 
Shannon Pipes said she was delighted with her surgery. Victor Besa / The National 

An Abu Dhabi teacher has told of her joy after shedding almost 25kg within weeks of doctors answering her public plea for weight loss surgery.

American Shannon Pipes, 35, had a body mass index measurement that placed her in the “at-risk” category of health problems in later life.

A busy work schedule and yo-yo dieting saw Ms Pipes, a married assistant principal, balloon in weight to more than 170 kilogrammes.

Insurers refused to cover the Dh40,000 cost of bariatric surgery, as her general health was otherwise good.

The way I feel now compared with before surgery is completely different

Shannon Pipes

That is when Burjeel Hospital stepped in to offer a free procedure.

“It has been a big adjustment but just a week or so post surgery I felt like I was getting back to normal,” said Ms Pipes, who lives in Shakhbout City.

“My appetite has been non-existent to the point where I have had to set reminders on my phone to eat, drink and take my vitamins.

“I have lost 23kg so far, doctors said I should lose the bulk of the excess weight within seven to nine months.”

The BMI scale measures weight and height, while taking into considerable body shape and build.

A healthy reading is considered anywhere from 18.5-24.9. Before her surgery, Ms Pipes’s BMI tipped 52.1

Although strictly confined to a liquid only diet for three weeks pre and post operation, Ms Pipes is beginning to eat small amounts of soft food like pureed beans and yoghurt.

Regular exercise and sticking to foods recommended foods by her doctors should result in losing up to 70 per cent of her excess weight within the next year or so.

She has had a Roux-en-Y procedure, where a small pouch is created from her stomach, connecting it with the small intestine.

Shannon Pipes had a body mass index that placed her in the “at-risk” category. Victor Besa / The National
Shannon Pipes had a body mass index that placed her in the “at-risk” category. Victor Besa / The National

It should drastically suppress her appetite and encourage further weight loss by limiting hormones responsible for over-eating.

Despite the weight loss and reduction in food, Ms Pipes said she does not feel tired and has plenty of energy.

“I know I am still moving through the phases of the diet to re-introduce normal foods to see what my body will tolerate,” she said.

“I can see physical changes in my face and body, but the way I feel now compared with before surgery is completely different.

“I am sleeping better and I’m ready for work the next day.”

Mrs Pipes said she wanted to reduce her weight to 100kg.

A Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi survey of more than 1,000 UAE residents carried out last year revealed up to 21 per cent of the respondents reported being obese, while 35 per cent said they did not exercise enough.

About 18 per cent of them said they would consider weight-loss surgery to improve their heart health.

At Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, the numbers of people undergoing bariatric surgery has almost doubled in three years.

In 2017, 300 people had surgery performed to counteract health risks of obesity.

That figure rose to 500 in 2018 and 580 last year.

The hospital’s lead bariatric surgeon Dr Basil Ammori, said Ms Pipes should aim to halve her BMI from 50 to under 25.

“Shannon is very committed to her recovery and we can tell she wants to get the most out of her surgery,” he said.

“She has done really well and knows this is the best chance of her turning her life around, she has grabbed it with both hands.

“Shannon wants to lose 100 per cent of her excess weight, but that will be difficult as this is on unusual parts of her body like her hips and thighs.

“What we can’t measure is her commitment, and only time will tell.”

The hospital is hosting a weight loss support meeting on Wednesday, March 4, between 6pm and 7pm, including talks from experts and tips on healthy eating.

For more information, call 800 55.

Updated: February 25, 2020 11:13 AM

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